Pursuit of Happiness and Belonging

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An individual’s sense of belonging is significantly determined by external influences. These external forces can have dramatic impacts on an individual’s ability to associate and conform to differing groups in society. Jane Harrison’s ‘Rainbow’s End’ epitomizes this concept through the struggle of three indigenous women to belong to place or family. Gabriele Muccino’s film ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ also embodies the same ideas about how external influences distinguish between belonging and isolation. Individuals in these texts are affected by a multitude of external influences that determine the sense of belonging and association with others.

Traumatic experiences from the past may inhibit an individuals attempt to connect with differing groups of society. Jane Harrison illustrates this through Nan Dear’s painful past involving the stolen generations. She was removed from her family and unable to receive an education, which ultimately hindered her ability to connect and associate with others through her lack of intelligence. The ignorance and narcissistic attitude from white society inevitably enabled Nan Dear to develop a protective and negative outlook towards the white authorities. This is evident when Nan Dear’s opinion of health services becomes obvious, “Hospitals is where they take our babies away.” Similarly, this is represented in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, whereby Chris was without a father for his whole life. The lack of a father figure and someone to idol encumbered his ability to associate with others and left him disjointed from society as a young man. The past experiences that these individuals endure were purely externally influenced and were uncontrollable; this inevitably alienated and isolated them from possibly connecting and belonging to differing groups of society.

An individual’s desire to belong to differing groups in society may go unfulfilled as a result of the ignorance or selfishness of other people’s actions. This is...
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