Belonging is the connection and understanding an individual feels with a group, object, or activity. An individual must have belonging to feel a true, deep happiness with oneself and one’s surroundings. The consequences of not belonging or alienation for extended periods of time can have severe psychological and emotional consequences. Scientists say that it is in the human need to belong. Naturally, belonging is something that all people strive to achieve. Belonging can change over time in one of two ways: with one’s search and acquirement of belonging, or with one’s deliberate or unintentional alienation over time. This is clearly demonstrated in two texts: the novel/memoir, Romulus, My Father, by Raimond Gaita; and the futuristic, dystopian film, Gattaca, by Andrew Niccol.
In the memoir by Raimond Gaita, he effectively conveys the changing levels of belonging felt by Romulus throughout the text. As an immigrant or ‘New Australian’, Romulus felt alienated from Australian society at the beginning of the novel. This is conveyed in the quote ‘The local newspaper ridiculed the New Australian for his folly’ (p 28), after Romulus sets fire to the Mikkelsens’ farm. The use of, ‘New Australian’ to refer to Romulus shows the Australians’ perspective of immigrants at the time, setting the immigrants apart from the ‘real Australians’. This quote reflects the isolation felt by Romulus as an immigrant in Australia.
However, as time progresses, Romulus gains the respect of the Australians through his good parenting, hard work, and through events such as his saving of Mikkelsen. ‘He and others attributed his survival to my father’s prompt and sensible action.’ Thus, he begins to be accepted into the community.
Romulus’s journey to achieving a true sense of belonging is constantly interrupted by his family problems, the main of which being his wife, Christine. Christine’s promiscuity causes Romulus’s sense of belonging to decrease whenever she is close. Christine’s...
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