Belonging: The Intricate Mix of Social Relationships and Individual Identity

Topics: Short story, Emily Dickinson, Bolesław Prus Pages: 3 (1034 words) Published: August 13, 2011
“Belonging in texts is designed to highlight the intricate mix of social relationships and individual identity.” Discuss. In your answer you must refer to your prescribed text and one text of your own choosing.

The notion of belonging is complex and often ambivalent. Developing an intricate mix of social relationships with others can provide positive and moderating influences. On the other hand an individual also needs the personal space which allows for self reflection and the nurture of identity. The condensed, confessional poems “I had been hungry all these years” and “I gave myself to him” by Emily Dickenson have a unique economy of style which actively challenges these dichotomies in the notion of “belonging”. Moreover Dickenson is contrasted with Annie Proulx’s shocking short story “55 miles to the gas pump” which promotes the view that geographic and social isolation, taken to extremes, can result in destructive and macabre outcomes. In Dickenson’s poem “I had been hungry all these years” it is clear that, while an individual needs seclusion to nurture identity, there is also a need to be part of communal life. Emily Dickenson use of hyperbole in the opening statement “I had been hungry all the years”, emphasises her exclusion from the greater community. Additionally Dickenson utilises the repetition of personal pronouns such as “I” and “my” to privilege her feminine voice and hence express her literary identity and uniqueness. The biblical allusion of “ample bread” draws a link to the last supper, which acts as a metonym for a communal gathering and the comfort it provides, yet Emily Dickenson’s juxtaposition of the “ample bread” with the frugal imagery of a “crumb” indicates that she prioritises the nurture of her own identity over the communion with others. The poem also presents, as binary opposites, the desire for individuality and the personal costs associated with relationships and the effort and energy that they require. Dickenson needs...
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