Belonging to a group, culture, nationality or school all have an effect on the individual’s sense of self. While outside forces such as discrimination may have an impact, it is essentially the individual’s decision to belong. This is shown throughout the two poems ‘Migrant Hostel’ and ‘St Patrick’s College’ by Peter Skrzynecki, and the film ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ directed by Kate Woods.
Peter Skrzynecki’s ‘Migrant Hostel’ reflects his own personal experiences as a migrant in Australia. The uncertain nature and impermanence of the Hostel creates both a metaphoric and literal barrier to belonging. The juxtaposition of “Comings and goings” implies a sense of chaos, impermanence and instability. The juxtaposition between the “comings and goings” and “arrivals” and “departures” adds to the sense of instability. The constant changing of the hostel prevents Skrzynecki from finding a place of belonging, leaving him feeling lost and confused about his sense of self. Skrzynecki feels as though he does not belong in the hostel because of the impermanent, instable environment, however he and the other migrants have certain things in common which unite them, consequently creating a place where they belong. “Arrivals of newcomers” and “sudden departures” left the migrants “wondering who would be coming next” implying an impersonal tone created by the use of collective nouns. The migrants belong to a group, implying a lack of individuality which unites the migrants and creates a sense of belonging. The hostel provides a prison-like life and societal group to which the migrants belong. The “barrier at the main gate” is a metaphoric and literal barrier, giving the impression of imprisonment, sealing off the migrants from the rest of the world. This segregation allows the migrants to belong to a group, but not a country.
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