A Sense of Belonging Can Emerge from the Connections Made with People, Groups and Places

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The novel Simple Gift is written in a verse form and presented by three different perspectives of the main characters- Billy, a 16 year old runaway, Caitlin, a girl from a wealthy family and Old Bill, a homeless alcoholic. This mix of gender, social status and age forms a sense of belonging which each character gains. The first person narrator allows the reader to directly engage with each of its characters. Billy Luckett does not have any connection with his dad because he is subjected to abuse both physically and verbally. He gives a negative description of his dad saying “the old bastard”. He uses colloquial language and sarcasm “see ya dad. I’ve taken the alcohol. Drink this instead to celebrate your son leaving home.” This sense of disconnection is illustrated in the poem ‘sport’ where his father “gives him a backhander across his face, so hard he fell down” and he “slams the door on his sporting childhood”. Herrick uses this metaphor to create a sense of isolation and alienation caused by an alcoholic father. Billy has no connection to his school either. He is shown to be a rebel by saying “Billy Luckett rhymes with…” the use of ellipse highlights the feeling of disconnection. He disrespects his teachers as well which is evident when he says “Let Cheetum chew on that”. All these instances show that he does not belong and has no connection with his family or community leading him to run away. He compares his dad to Ernie, the train driver in the poem “Men”. He says that they are both opposite. “There are men like Ernie and there are men like my dad”. He refers to his dad as someone who does not perform his fatherly role emphasising on the fact that he is completely disconnected from his father. Certain people can make a person belong and Billy’s case is no different. Billy and Caitlin have nothing in common but their relationship relay’s on internal love and bonds. They both feel disconnected from the world and their families. They catch each other “doing...
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