Romulus My Father + Ort - Belonging

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“What are the most powerful influences that impact on an individual’s sense of belonging?

Belonging is a concept of fitting in to a group, place or team. Belonging to place, identity, relationships and barriers are significant influences impacting on belonging in both the memoir Romulus, My father and a similar text in the poem Katrina by Bruce Dawe. The prescribed and related texts effectively demonstrate the importance of how integral a sense of belonging is to human existence and the impact it can have on one’s life.

Belonging to place is a theme highly evident throughout the novel Romulus, My Father placing a high level of significance on Romulus and his family. Australians icons are highlighted throughout the text to put emphasis on the idea of belonging to place. “A dead red gum stood only a hundred metres from the house and became for my mother a symbol of her desolation”, the use of symbolism to represent the challenge of immigrating of Australia is effective in underlining the idea of place. This idea is a recurring motif throughout the text, the vastness of the landscape seems impersonal and uncaring to the eyes of the outsider, especially to Christine where it stood as a symbol of her isolation. *

There is always a recurring notion that Raimond doesn’t belong as a child as he is constantly being moved around yet he seems to find solace at Frogmore and never worries about its deterioration even when he returns from boarding school. This is evident in his detailed description of the life at Frogmore and the greater attention paid to it over his life at St Kilda. The close attention to word choice in the line “…Tom lived with his wife Mary and her sister, Miss Jane Collard”, focuses on his connection with Miss Lillie. The informal language used when describing the name of Miss Lillie as Mary compared to Miss Jane highlights Raimond’s connection with Miss Lillie helped him find a connection within the life at Frogmore and in turn a sense of belonging.

In Romulus, My Father, focus is placed on several different foundations for which our identity, and in turn our sense of belonging, is formed. An individual’s sense of self or identity is affected by his or her belonging to their community and its physical surroundings. Being an immigrant, Romulus gains recognition and respect by proving his value through hard work. Gaita uses personification in “his materials…seemed to be in friendship with him” to highlight the bond that exists between Romulus and his work, therefore stressing the significance of how influential identity is to his character. *

* Romulus prides his identity on honesty, loyalty and respect of others. Raimond’s choice to take the aftershave, and deny any transgression, contradicts his father’s life philosophy. The rebelling of Raimond isn’t what made Romulus angry; it was the refusal to confess to his wrongdoing that infuriates him. “His anger grew till he could barely speak”. We witness a similar act where he disposes of the broken razor in the dam and denies any role in the misplacing of the razor. The use of a metaphor in “rigorous truthfulness could give a person the inner unity necessary for strength of character” is demonstrating what I perceive to be the anxiousness of Romulus that Raimond is adopting qualities of his mother. Its not until later in the novel that Raimond realises of his wrongdoing “I know what a good workman is; I know what an honest man is; I know what friendship is; I know because I remember these things in the person of my father”. *

* Relationships possess great significance in Romulus, My Father. The relationship between Raimond’s parents Romulus and Christine is very fragmented, to which he describes the relationship as “intense and fraught”. The use of a metaphor in “Such was the rollercoaster of wild emotion at the time” is effective in highlighting the elevated emotional levels of the period, such as Romulus’s attempted suicide due to...
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