Belonging is a vast and complex concept which encompasses many abstract ideas. While it can be defined as the connections or associations that one has to a particular person, a community or the larger world, resulting in the creation of an individual’s sense of identity and security, the multifaceted nature of belonging is such that it cannot be reduced to a single definition. Belonging is crucial to an individual as it not only enriches their understanding of themselves, but also the world around them. Hence the consequences of not belonging can be dire- resulting in the loss of identity, understanding and purpose. As a result it is a prominent feature of the literary world. This is evident in the (1998) memoir by Raimond Gaita, “Romulus, My Father,” Jodi Picoult’s novel My sister’s Keeper and John Boyne’s 2007 film, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” Each of the texts directly explore ambivalent relationships which can create a sense of belonging through the connections established through a shared context, but also alienation which has resulted from a lack of connectedness with the world around them. ROMULUS #1
A sense of belonging can emerge from the connections made with people, places, groups and the larger world, enabling one to gain feelings of comfort and security without compromise, conditions or limitations. In Romulus, My Father, Gaita demonstrates the powerful bond and unconditional love that exists within a filial relationship, evident in the imperative tone in “His desire – his need – for me to grow up decently,” highlighting the influence of an adult in shaping a child’s character, further illustrating that one’s core need to belong can be fulfilled through a loving relationship with others. Belonging can be achieved through a connection with a wider social group, in this case, the Romanian community. This is evident as upon arrival, Gaita immediately “sought them out,” with the use of past tense enabling the composer to reflect on how...
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