In what way has your study of concept of belonging broadened and deepened your understanding of yourself and the world? Belonging is a basic human need yet it is a constantly changing one. It is the result of understanding and making meaningful connections with a culture. However, a sense of belonging can only be altered or formed if the person actively chooses to understand that to which they would belong and adapt to it. By reading Peter Skrzynecki’s poetry ’10 Mary Street’ and ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ from Immigrant Chronicle, Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival and watching Philip Noyce’s movie ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’, the responders can broaden and deepen their understanding of the concept that altitude is crucial to developing a sense of belonging. All three texts employ a variety of language and visual techniques to assist the readers’ comprehension.
In ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ and ’10 Mary Street’, responders can enrich their understanding of the idea that one’s attitude to different cultures can affect their sense of belonging. In ’10 Mary Street’, the poet expresses a deep sense of understanding and a strong sense of connection with the Polish culture while rejecting a sense of belonging to the Australian culture. The imagery of ‘tended roses and camellia’ planted in the garden symbolises the European culture that is preserved by the family. This idea is reinforced by the symbolism and imagery of the house standing in ‘china-blue coat’, which represents the Polish culture embraced by the family. The metaphor ‘kept pre-war Europe alive’ conveys that the Skrzyneckis are yearning for the past and they are preserving a strong sense of identity and belonging to the Polish culture through practising it. This mutual sense of belonging to the culture is extended to a sense of belonging within the family. The imagery ‘heated discussions/ And embracing gestures’ expresses the poet’s acknowledgement of the Polish custom, and along with the fluent use of the foreign italicised word ‘kielbasa’, the poet’s strong connection and sense of belonging to not only the family but the Polish culture is expounded.
However, as time passed by, Peter Skrzynecki develops his sense of belonging to Australian culture and rejection to his Polish heritage in ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’. In contrast to his acknowledgement of Polish custom in ’10 Mary Street’, the poet expresses his judgemental opinion towards his father’s social manner that emerge from the Polish heritage through the imagery ‘shook hands too violently’ and ‘that formal address/ I never got used to’. This lack of understanding between father and son then results in a distant relationship between them, which is suggested by the imagery ‘My father…watching stars and street lights come on/ happy as I have never been’. The father and son’s psychological journeys diverge as the son is ‘stumbling over tenses in Caeser’s Garllic War/ I lost my first Polish word’. This metaphor suggests that the son has forgotten his language, which he was able to use fluently in ’10 Mary Street’, and hence the Polish culture it carries. As the son immerses himself into the Australian culture, the father and son have embarked on a totally different psychological path, and this idea is enhanced by the allusion of ‘Further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall’. The use of Hadrian’s Wall symbolises the social and culture barrier that prevents the father and son from feeling belonging to each other. The father remains entrenched in his Polish heritage while the son has adapted to the Australian culture. They can no longer communicate with each other and consequently the absence of understanding between them results in the son’s lack of belonging to not only the father, but more importantly to the Polish culture the father represents. Therefore, by comparing the poet’s different attitude towards different cultures expressed in the two poems as well as the consequent differing senses of belonging developed, the...
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