Raimond Gaita’s “Romulus, My Father” & Sujata Bhatt’s “Search For My Tongue”
The need to connect with our contextual environment, particularly forging strong bonds of association with other individuals is common to humanity. Paradoxically however, individuals often have to compromise their own values and personal integrity into order to be accepted. This is the case with Romulus in the 1998 memoir Romulus, My Father, written by Raimond Gaita, who is compelled by the rest of 1950’s Australian society to assimilate into the Anglo-Saxon dominated society in order to be accepted. This can be also seen in Sujata Bhatt’s poem, Search For My Tongue, in her poetry anthology The Colour of Solitude, where the persona laments the loss of the links to her cultural heritage and landscape as a result of the compromise that had forces her to assimilate into American society. It is these forged connections to people and place that may result in the concession of the individual’s existing values, and are the aspects of belonging being represented in these texts.
The new formation of connections to place and other people can have the grave consequences of the loss of the individual’s values and their self-identity if they inhibit one’s sense of belonging to their original identity. Romulus refuses to conform and assimilate to Australian society and faces hostility from nineteen fifties Australian society because of this in Romulus, My Father, as he wishes to maintain his original Romanian identity. The harsh tone of “The local newspaper criticized the New Australian for his folly” and the labelling of Romulus as a “New Australia” separates him from the rest of the town of Frogmore, which is a consequence of Romulus adhering to his existing values when he “without thinking, responding with an instinct of an immigrant unused to the tinder-dry conditions of an Australian summer…he set fire to the place in order to kill the snake.” Despite all this agression, Romulus remained...
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