Romulus My Father - Belonging

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It is in human nature to strive towards a sense of Belonging, a process that incites the creation, or deterioration of a sense of personal and cultural identification. The memoir, Romulus, My Father, by Raimond Gaita; John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation; and Tim Winton’s short story, Big World, from the collection, The Turning, explore the concept that Belonging is the driving force for the human condition. Each composer represents their varied perceptions of belonging in their texts, conveying that Belonging as a fundamental need we strive for in our search to create a concrete identity.

The memoir, Romulus, My Father, portrays the ways in which immigrants in 1950’s rural Victoria struggled to be accepted in a foreign society, exploring both Romulus and Gaita’s personal experiences with Belonging. The tone of the narrative is retrospective; Gaita makes himself vulnerable to his responder by inviting them to observe Australian society from the perspective of a migrant. Romulus’ experience is typical of a first generation migrant, he is displaced, separated from his homeland, conveyed through the metaphor of his disconnection to the Australian landscape: “He longed for European society, saying that he felt like a ‘prisoner’ in Australia.” Romulus is an example of stoicism displayed through typically male qualities, defined by his work ethic and strong European morals. Romulus’ European values are echoed by Hora and among the intolerance and alienation of Australian society, they find connection. The setting at the isolated Frogmore provides the Europeans with the opportunity to establish their own values away from mainstream Australia. This draws attention to their emotional need to belong; they group together through shared experience and background.

Gaita’s experience of belonging portrays it as a process, evident as the narrative traces his rejection, isolation, evaluation and finally assimilation. This is seen predominantly in his attempts...
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