Belonging Critical Essay
“Belonging to a community or group has a significant impact on an individual’s sense of self”
Individuals desire a sense of belonging within various groups in the community to engage with others in an enriching and meaningful way. Displacement from a community, culture or family can have a significant impact on individuals’ sense of self and where he truly belongs. Peter Skryzynecki’s poems, “Feliks Skrzynecki” and “Migrant Hostel” explore the effects of displacement due to migration and the consequential lack of identity and place. Bruce Dawe’s poem “Enter without so much as knocking” and an image from Shaun Tan’s book “The Arrival” explores various ...view middle of the document...
In stanza two, harsh words such as “darkened”, “cement” and “cracks” demonstrate the hardships Feliks has had to endure from physical hard-labour. In stanza three, words such as “flowered” and “slaughtering” convey that Feliks lived a productive life in Poland and had a strong sense of belonging there. The simile “loved his garden like an only child” suggests that his father takes pride in his garden and finds sense in himself there because he feels he belongs there.
Bruce Dawe “Enter Without so much as knocking”
In contrast, “Enter without so much as knocking” commences with the birth of a baby and details society’s corruption of innocence as the child grows to adulthood. The baby instigates a journey into a materialistic world where people’s actions are controlled by signs, expectations and commands such as “WALK. DON’T WALK.TURN LEFT. NO PARKING. WAIT HERE. NO SMOKING. KEEP CLEAR/OUT/OFF THE GRASS”. Through the character’s life the audience is invited to scrutinize the society to which they belong.
Dawe uses friendly conversational language such as “Anyway, pretty soon” and “Now, take it easy” to engage the audience. The imagery used by Dawe personifies human life as a game show, where the man’s life ends with the jocular talk-show host-style account with undertones of bitterness and irony. Dawe depicts the child’s family as an advertised product consisting of common stereotypes such as “One economy - sized Mum, one Anthony Squires- Cool stream – summer weight Dad, along with two other kids, Straight off the Junior Department rack.” The futile succession of human lives in a money-oriented world is portrayed in this poem, underlining the superficiality in society. Dawe’s purpose of this poem was to challenge this cycle of life that he observed, and to demonstrate to the audience, through only a few instances in a person’s existence, the conformity of society resulting in a lack of identity and place, the essential ingredients to belong.
Peter Skrzynecki’s “Migrant Hostel” explores the effects of displacement due to migration has on the desire for individuals to maintain their identity in a strange environment. Skrzynecki uses a bitter tone to highlight how migrants were segregated and isolated from the rest of the population despite the fact they were invited to live in Australia. This separation results in a confusion of identity, feelings of isolation and chiefly the sense of not belonging. Skrzynecki uses words such as “comings”, “goings”, “arrivals” and...