Romulus, My Father - Essay

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Explore how perceptions of belonging and not belonging can be influenced by connections to places in Romulus, My Father.

An individual's capacity to belong is primarily dependent on their personal experience, and varies in difficulty depending on the dynamics of each individual's personality and temperament. The landscape in which an individual resides has a definitive impact upon an individual’s sense of belonging. Furthermore, the specific place, in relation to where the individual literally resides, too influences ones sense of belonging. In Raimond Gaita's biographical memoir Romulus, My Father, the notion of belonging is strongly influenced by place. Both belonging and not belonging are explored through the characters sense of place, Romulus and Christine respectively. Romulus is able to successfully transition from Yugoslavia to Australia as he effectively endeavours to integrate his native culture – through Slivovitz, Yugoslavian friends and his native trade – into his newfound home. In contrast, Christine is unable to find any means of connection to the place or landscape and as a result becomes alienated. Raimond connects to place in his own unique way, using the landscape of rural Australia as a metaphor for belonging and subsequently finding a ‘place to call home’. Ultimately, Romulus, My Father explores the powerful influence that place holds over an individual’s sense of belonging.

Throughout Raimond Gaita’s Romulus, My Father, Romulus Gaita’s sense of belonging is heavily influenced through a connection to place and landscape. Born in Yugoslavia, Romulus emigrated on an assisted passage in 1950 at the age of 28, with his young wife Christine and their four-year-old son Raimond soon after the end of World War II. While the transition between countries can often hold harsh and ominous repercussions on an individual’s sense of self, Romulus seems to successfully establish himself within the Australian community. Foremost, Romulus does so though...
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