Peter Skyrznecki's Migrant Hostel Belonging Analysis

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Our innate need to belong can only be satisfied through stout connections to people, place and culture, built upon a stable social platform; however the highest levels of belonging are a state of mind, a perception. This perception, in the case of immigrants, is both influenced and hindered by xenophobic and prejudicial barriers forced upon them by the ‘new world’ society, this immigrant struggle is illuminated through Peter Skryznecki’s “Migrant Hostel”. Skryznecki’s “Migrant Hostel” demonstrates the importance of one’s social connections in terms of belonging and the detrimental effects that the loss of culture can have on one’s identity. The instability and uncertainty that stemmed from the migrant’s loss of culture is seen in the opening stanza, “that left us wondering Who would be coming next”. This line is surrounded by a melancholy tone and the use of enjambment stresses the word “who” highlighting the uncertainty of the migrant existence. Within the first stanza, words and phrases like ‘comings and goings’, ‘arrivals’, and ‘sudden departures’ have been cleverly used by the composer to suggest the transient nature of the migrant belonging. The migrant’s desire to find a common friend and social stability is expressed through the motif of migratory birds. They “sought each other out instinctively – Like a homing pigeon circling to get its bearings”, this simile is indicative of our intrinsic need to belong and by comparing the immigration to a pigeon circling to get its bearings, the composer has stressed the cultural confusion caused by their displacement. As they “lived like birds of passage Always sensing a change in the weather” the composer has again suggested that the migrant’s accommodation, existence and identity are impermanent. Skryznecki also touches on the fine line between belonging and not belonging. In the wake of world war II, millions of displaced migrants existed only in a nether world, caught between a former homeland and a new world that...
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