Migrant Hostel is an account of Peter Skrzynecki’s time in the migrant hostel, yet it is ambiguous and could apply to many immigrants. This suggests that many people were struggling to find belonging as immigrants in Australia.
A general experience is emphasized in the first stanza by the use of “us” in the 2nd last line. The last line of the stanza poses a question to the reader “Who would be coming next.” This technique is used to engage them in the poem. It also underlines the uncertainty and insecurity immigrants felt whilst living at the migrant hostel.
In Migrant Hostel we are presented with the arrival of post-war migrants who’ve come from a war-torn Europe to Australia in hopes of starting a new life, however the reality is quickly made apparent when we find out that the location of the hostel is in Parkes thus isolating the migrants from the general society itself, and also the start of their alienation.
This sense of alienation is further emphasized in the quote, “A barrier at the main gate sealed off the highway… As it rose and fell like a finger pointed in reprimand or shame.” From this quote the use of the simile and personification of the main gate gives it oppressive qualities, thus allowing the inanimate object to be the domineering force, isolating the migrants from society… Also the use of the pointed finger further displays the gate’s authority as it directly points at the migrants and figuratively says, “You’re a migrant, you don’t belong.”
From this alienation and displacement however, the migrants are left with one another and only have their cultural backgrounds to form their identities of which is why it is said that “nationalities” and not “individuals” seek out each other instinctively; As it was based on pure instinct and not rational thought as put forward by the simile “Like a homing pigeon.”
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