Belonging: W. H. Auden and Refugee Blues

Topics: W. H. Auden, Grammatical person, The Namesake Pages: 3 (959 words) Published: October 15, 2010
‘Refugee Blues’ has connections to The Namesake. Both deal with dislocation: Ashok and Ashima on moving from India and Gogol from his Indian background and family. These feelings are common when people make these huge shifts from one country to another or just one city to another. along with belonging being a fundamental need goes the efforts we make to achieve it and the times when people feel alienated or dislocated. So there are two sides to belonging. Ashok and Ashima begin to belong when they mix with and expatriot Indian community. Gogol finds some sense of belonging when he has to deal with his father’s death and come to terms with who he is and his responsibilities. Techniques are the HOW the composer has chosen to communicate their meaning. It’s one thing to have the message; it’s another to chose the way you say it/present it. In ‘Refugee Blues’, Auden uses the first person plural “we’ to achieve identification from the reader with his personas in the poem. He offers scenarios to demonstrate the refugees’ dislocation and the fear that their presence arouses. What are some of the other language features in the poem? Chose significant ones, not just the first one you see.The context for this poem is important: German or european refugees around WW2. Who might they be? Although The Namesake isn’t the same context some of the feelings and fears are similar. Ashok and Ashima make the move to the US and make the most of it for themselves and their family. That is not to say it isn’t difficult assimilating but making friends with Indian ex-patriots helps. Gogol, on the other hand, is US born and doesn’t share their love of India. He is between cultures, if you like: neither Indian nor truly American. It’s his father’s death that is a turning point for him.

Obvious ones are The Arrival by Shaun Tan, W H Auden’s poem, ‘Refugee Blues’ or Wole Soyinka’s poem, ‘Telephone Conversation’. Both can be got from the net. More unusual choices would be the...
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