Explore how perceptions of belonging and not belonging can be influenced by connections to people.
Connecting to people is essential to developing a sense of belonging. When people aren’t connected to others they can feel isolated or alienated. Two texts that examine this idea are the motion picture ‘Gran Torino’ directed by Clint Eastwood and Steven Herrick’s verse novel ‘The Simple Gift’.
For people to perceive that they really belong, they need to make connections with the people around them. In ‘Gran Torino’ Eastwood examines this idea through the characters Walt and Thao. A scene within ‘Gran Torino’ that greatly represents this idea is the BBQ scene where Walt invites over his new found Asian friends – Thao and his family. This scene contrasts to the beginning of the movie when all Walt did was scowl at them and make snide comments. There are many things that are being shared at the BBQ i.e. company, food, conversation and respect. By using shots of them all in the one angle, Eastwood is able to give the illusion of close-ness. Belonging has given Walt the reward of satisfaction and pride in Thao’s accomplishments; helping him become a man and witnessing him take initiative to ask a girl on a date. Thao is then rewarded by Walt with the ultimate sign of trust and respect when Walt loans his prized ‘Gran Torino’ car to Thao for the date. Eastwood uses positive imagery, along with cuts of the smiling faces of the characters to best show these rewards through the symbolism of a BBQ as a place where people share their happiness and laughter.
This is similar to the message Herrick is giving us through the characters of Billy and Caitlyn in the verse novel ‘The Simple Gift’. ‘In the sunshine’ highlights the rewards of belonging to someone with the use of positively charged words and imagery through the use of ‘bright’, ‘sunshine’, and ‘determined’. The symbolism of pillows represents comfort and tranquillity. Caitlyn is welcomed by Billy “He saw me...
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