Belonging In Jane Harrison's Swallow The Air

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The process of belonging occurs when the individual develops relationships with people and challenge themselves to be part of the community and gain experiences which enrich the connections with society. In Jane Harrison’s Rainbow’s End, the protagonists struggle to gain a sense of acceptance within the White community but they demonstrate their willingness to challenge the social norms in order to define and protect their Indigenous community. In Tara
June Winch’s Swallow the Air, the protagonist, May, communicates her adversities in trying to belong to the White society but simultaneously illustrates her strong sense of identity within her Aboriginal culture. And Warwick Thornton’s film Samson and Delilah depicts the harsh living conditions
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Life is equally hollow for the female protagonist, Delilah. An extended montage drags out the slow, depressing scene of Delilah getting up from bed, gathering kindling wood, boiling the billy, and taking care of her sick Nana. The truncated dialogue such as ‘wake up’, ‘tablets’,
‘swallow it’, ‘good’ and ‘no’ further accentuate the emotionless and uneventful nature of life that hinders Delilah’s sense of belonging within either her family, her cultural roots or the immediate community. In such ways, the cycle of drugs, poverty and dysfunctional relationships demonstrates how Samson and Delilah initially fail to form a sense of family, culture and community.

The notion of dysfunctional relationships as a negative influence on belonging and identity is also conveyed in Swallow the Air. In the beginning of the novel the protagonist, May continues her endeavour to redefine her lost sense of belonging through tracing her family name.“I wondered if it had suffocated in the air” the imagery of death is associated with excruciating pain which further reflects the psychological turmoil of May’s mother.

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