One of the ways in which individuals establish their sense of self is determined by the affiliations they choose, and the groups with which they create connections. An individual may be said to have a strong sense of self if they have a clear notion of their purpose and direction as they move forward through life, as well as a sense of who they are and what they stand for. Through his collection of poems entitled Immigrant Chronicle, Peter Skrzynecki explores the extent to which a lack of belonging has had a damaging impact on his own sense of self. In his poems ‘Migrant Hostel’ and ‘St Patrick’s College’ he considers how a lack of belonging as a child impacted upon his own sense of purpose, whilst in ‘Ancestors’ he explores the extent to which his connections with family ancestry affect his sense of self-identity. Likewise, in the film The Shawshank Redemption, director Frank Darabont uses the characters of Brooks Hatlen and Andy Dufresne to explore how it is affiliation with community that creates a strong sense of self. It is through the process of belonging to groups and communities that individuals clarify their sense of purpose and self-identity, thereby creating and shaping their individual sense of self.
‘Migrant Hostel’ is Skrzynecki’s account of his childhood experiences living in a migrant hostel in Parkes, where he and his mother stayed for two years after their arrival from Poland in 1949. Whilst his father worked in Sydney, he and his Mother found it very difficult to establish any sense of purpose in a place where they did not truly belong. Skrzynecki’s use of non-specific language, describing people in the camp as ‘comings’, ‘goings’, ‘newcomers’ and ‘departures’, highlights just how transient life seemed in the hostel. Day to day living was