Belonging is known as a process of identification that establishes our relationships between individuals and their society. Often, the pursuit of a sense of belonging dominates one’s life as it can emerge from the connections made with people and society. It has been found that man’s need for companionship, belonging is natural and instinctive and something that is pre-coded in the primitive brain.
Aristotle once said, “The impulse to form partnership of this kind is present in all men by nature. Knowledge of one’s identity through knowledge of where one belongs can give meaning to life and bring about happiness, while exclusion can trigger a sense of unworthiness, even inferiority, and alienation as shown through the poetry of Peter Skryznecki and the film ‘Into the Wild’ We chose the poems of Peter Skrzynecki as our prescribed text and there is a greater sense of not belonging and alienation in every poem than belonging and acceptance. It is almost that he wants us to feel sympathy and condolence for him in his poems.
What Is A Migrant Hostel
Poems such as ‘Migrant Hostel, Ancestors and Feliks Skryznecki’ convey his message of being estranged and isolated from his identity of the polish culture and his uncertain future. To convey these views Skrzynecki uses a variety of techniques, the main ones being: metaphors, similes, personification, rhetorical questions and the use of tone. The poem Migrant hostel (Parkes 1949-1951) carries authencity and themes of difficulties assimilating into a new culture, feelings of uncertainty and insecurity and therefore issues surrounding identity, or the lack OF identity.
In ‘Migrant Hostel’ the poet uses the imagery of birds to show us this sense of uncertainty. Example ‘We lived like birds of passage/Always sensing a change’ and ‘Nationalities sought each other instinctively-/ Like a homing pigeon ‘Feeling uncertain and insecure the migrants sought comfort and security from people with a familiar Background and felt a sense of belonging and acceptance as they were ‘recognised by accents’. Also in ‘Migrant Hostel’ the poet effectively reveals the problems that migrants face of Assimilating into a new culture.
Skryznecki does this with his powerful Image and personification of the boom gate at the migrant hostel. ‘As it rose and fell like a finger/ Pointed in reprimand or shame’. The word ‘reprimand’ has negative connotations in this context being that the outside world may not be welcoming. Here we also get the sense that migrants are ostracized from the outside world as they are ‘sealed off the highway’ which is an obstacle to freedom, new life as they are unable to reach it.
In the Poem ‘Felix Skrzynecki’ the poet explores a contrast of the theme of strong cultural identity and alienation for Feliks Skrzynecki and loss of cultural identity for Peter Skrzynecki in a new land. Feliks Skrzynecki chooses to isolate himself from society as he surrenders belonging in an Australian society; rather he chooses to belong in his garden as he ‘loved his garden like an only child’. Feliks feels secure and finds peace of mind in his garden and the use of hyperbole ‘Ten times around the world’ creates a strong connection between Feliks and his garden.
His polish friends/talking they reminisced about farms where paddocks flowered’. This shows Feliks strong cultural identity with his polish friends an that he has a spiritual connection to the country that shaped him. Peter Skrzynecki realises that to become his own person (to fulfil his identity) he must move away from his family and surrender the polish culture. The loss of cultural identity is communicated through the image made by lines such as ‘I forgot my first polish word/After that like a dumb prophet, /Watched me pegging my tents/Further and further south Of Hadrian’s Wall’.
The use of alliteration and repetition (a potent literary technique) ‘further and further’ further emphasises the point of how much of the lost of the polish heritage and Peter’s cultural identity. The poem ‘Ancestors’ is an interesting and enigmatic poem that raises many questions and images but gives little definite comment. The poem encourages the audience think about their past and the people who are responsible for our existence. These figures seem to appear to the poet in a dream but cannot communicate with him.
There is a clear spiritual connection between the persona and these “bearded, faceless men/standing shoulder to shoulder? ‘ which is a collective term and creates a sense of belonging with the use of alliteration but the rhetorical question undercuts this belonging by confusing the audience. There is also a real sense of uncertainty about his identity as ‘they whisper into the darkness”. The poet’s continual use of “they” emphasises his lack of knowledge about his ancestors. There is a sense of frustration in the final stanzas.
The poet sees clearer faces yet he awakens and cannot speak ‘Why do you wake as there faces become clearer’. He captures his dissatisfaction and impotence in the simile, “Your tongue as dry as caked mud. ” There is an inevitable relationship between the shadowy figures and the poet as “the wind tastes of blood’. This last line answers all the rhetorical questions asked in the poem as it tells the poet that he does have a blood related connection with his ancestors but also suggests that he has betrayed and surrendered his own cultural identity.
My related text ‘Into the wild’ is a story about youthful alienation that alternately irritates and engages. Based on a true story “Into the Wild” is basically a road picture that follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless, a bright college boy who chooses not to belong to a society that lives a lie bases on reasons and expectations. “If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed. ” A quote from Christopher McCandless. So he decides to leave and surrender his ‘fake society’ identity behind “The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences. By Chris McCandless and hitch hikes his way for two years like a drifter to live in the wild in search for happiness and his true identity.
An example of this concept of not belonging can be seen when the family are having dinner, Christopher’s parents offer him to buy a car in order to improve his social image but Christopher sees this as an unnecessary measure. ‘Why would I want a new car? / are you worried what the neighbors might think’. Chris abandons his family and decides to chuck it all and become a self-styled “aesthetic voyager” in search of “ultimate freedom. in the wild where he feels a great sense of belonging to the places and with the people he meets, “I have lived through much and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet, secluded life in the country with the possibility of being useful to people’. This concept of belonging explores that he has found happiness and therefore found his identity and freedom. This can be seen through the ‘long and far camera angle shots’ of the landscape and the natural imagery of the snow and the Grand canyon.
The impression this film gives is that this act of rebellion by Chris is primarily a way to punish his parents for what he perceives as their hypocrisy and for the misery they put him and his sister through with their brutal fights all during their childhoods ‘we were the bastard children’ Techniques which were used throughout the film are the use of constant voice over’s and close camera angle shots of him writing his thoughts in his diary. The voice over’s and written diary shots provide an incentive to the actions of Christopher and how he feels about them.
A major concept of belonging to society is portrayed as the most important custom in ones life. The realization of the concept of belonging to society to live can clearly be seen after the death of Christopher. The montage of Christopher’s past at the end of the film puts together the memorable moments in his life which ironically were all related with his family. It shows him hugging his parents and finally realizing the value of belonging to a society. This realization is also backed up by the closing statement of Chris writing in his diary in his last moments “Happiness is only real when shared”.
This immediately portrays belonging to society as a necessity to feel happy and valued. The poetry of Peter Skrzynecki and The film’ Into The Wild” demonstrate that without a sense of belonging, which in essence arises from knowing one’s identity, the individual is incomplete, Hence, life is incomplete. Realizing one’s identity, through finding a place where one belongs is a key piece in the puzzle that is contentment. Even a life without belonging is consumed by the yearning to belong-showing that a life untouched by belonging is a life in which satisfaction hence happiness is unattainable.