‘A sense of belonging may emerge from connections to people and places’
Belonging to people or place is a fundamental human need. An individual’s sense of belonging can be enriched or hindered through disconnection and displacement. Three texts which illustrate the complexities of belonging, are the selected poems Feliks Skrzynecki and 10 Mary Street by Peter Skrzynecki, Phillip Noyce’s film Rabbit Proof Fence, and a vastly different film Into the Wild by Sean Penn.
A sense of belonging to one’s family and place is crucial to one’s understanding of self. The poem reveals Peter’s disjointed relationship with his Polish culture and his father, Feliks. The growing sense of separation between the persona and his father is evident in the metaphor “watched the pegging my tents/ Further and further south of Hadrian’s wall”, which implies their emotional distancing as the persona moves towards Australianness. Peter feels the lack of affinity to his cultural heritage, which is evident in “his polish friends/ Always shook hands too violently/ I thought…Feliks Skyzynecki” and even “forgot his first polish word”.
***Conversely a sense of belonging is seen in Peter’s father, Feliks. Although he is displaced from Poland, he is able to renew his connection with the soil. The simile “loved his garden like an only child” shows the depth of his belonging to the soil. This poem confirms belonging to place sometimes requires adjustment.
10 Mary Street
***Belonging to place offers security and helps in shaping our identity. The poem 10 Mary Street highlights belonging to place as transient. Skrzynecki depicts the action of locking the house as a ritual or daily routine. This is evident in “shut the houses like a well oiled lock/hid the key/ under a rusty bucket”. The imagery implies the sense of safety and security and through the simile of “like a well-oiled lock”,**…… cultural image where they ‘kept pre-war Europe alive, with photographs and letters’...
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