How do your texts explore the nature of true belonging? Many texts convey the true nature of belonging as bringing repercussions, resulting in consequence. Also suggested in many texts is the idea of a strong sense of identity leads to the attainment of true belonging. Selected poems from Peter Skzrynecki’s “Immigrant Chronicle,” Noel Gay’s play “Me and My Girl” and Michael Radford’s film interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” all portray the idea of belonging requiring sacrifice and necessitating a strong sense of identity.
Peter Skzrynecki’s poems depict the idea that one individuals belonging may be at the expense of another’s. Peter conveys his parents’ sacrifice of his belonging in order for them to attain true belonging. His father is portrayed as truly belonging to his culture and being content, in a way the poet feels he has never experienced. This is clearly demonstrated in Feliks Skzrynecki, where the poet suggests envy of his father. Happy as I have never been” suggests while Peter may have a level of belonging to Australia, he never had the same level of belonging or contentment as his father who, through the creation of his polish enclave, among other things, has attained true belonging. This true belonging is achieved through what the poet perceives a sacrifice of his own chance of belonging. St Patrick’s College also illustrates the poet’s belief that his mother’s actions had resulted in negative consequences for him.
The poet conveys his cynical view of his mother’s actions, when he says “wanting only ‘what was best’” clearly portraying the differences in the two generations ideas of true belonging. Skzrynecki also conveys his lack of belonging in the poem, contrasting the routine with which he undertook every school day “for eight years” against his true feelings about it, “... like a foreign tourist. ” This comparison portrays his overall feelings of the lack of belonging to Australia. The portrayal that an individual’s true belonging may come at the expense of another’s effectively conveys the nature of true belonging requiring sacrifice.
Skzrynecki’s text and Noel Gay’s play Me and My Girl both convey the idea of inherited belonging to culture. Both portray belonging as innate from birth. The poem Migrant Hostel indicates a sense of belonging as a group, one which Peter has been born into. “We lived like birds of passage” indicates this sense of belonging together. The use of “we,” the first person plural as a contrast with some of his other poems where he is portrayed as an outsider, signifies his membership to this group. Peter Skzrynecki’s poems illustrates the desire for ‘true belonging’ comes at a price, as he must conform to Australia or belong nowhere.
The poem Feliks Skzrynecki’s highlights the author’s link to his Polish culture and homeland, a link his father shares. This is evident in the lines “I inherited unknowingly” demonstrating the supposed true belonging that succeeds from birth. The decision to separate from the ‘inherited’ belonging however is emphasised in the final allusion of the poem “further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall. ” This suggests a natural drifting as a result of the generational gap between Peter and his parents, illustrating the idea children will drift from their parents.
Peter chooses to separate himself from his family in the hope of attaining ‘true belonging’ in Australia. Similarly, Sally does the same thing. Me and My Girl portrays the idea that true belonging is contingent on what you are, however modifications can result in belonging elsewhere. Sally finds her true place of belonging with the love of her life – Bill. She sacrifices her inherited belonging to Lambeth, illustrated in her exchange with Sir John where he suggests they make her “fit and proper” and she agrees to go to Mayfair.
The exchange between Sally and Sir John suggests Sally’s sacrifice in an attempt to find true belonging for herself and Bill in Mayfair. Peter Skzrynecki’s poems and Me and My Girl both convey ideas of inherited belonging being sacrificed in order to attain belonging elsewhere. Me and My Girl clearly portrays the idea a strong sense of identity leads to belonging. Bill and Sally belong truly to Lambeth shown chiefly through the song “The Lambeth Walk. ” The upbeat rhythm and invitational language suggests an ease of belonging, outlining Bill’s identity as a Lambeth man.
The musical fanfare combined with the inclusive language “You’ll find us all doing the Lambeth walk” emphasises the identity of the Lambeth community. The sense of familiarity, unity and consistency throughout the song, illustrated in the line “every night and every day” highlights there is nothing sporadic about Lambeth – it is the way things are and you can count on it, suggesting a strong sense of true belonging as a community. The play, however also conveys Bill’s sacrifice of parts of his cultural identity in order to receive social and financial gain.
Sally truly belongs with Bill, so although more reluctant to sacrifice aspects of her identity, she sacrifices it for Bill. She is willing, as demonstrated in the denouement of the play. The play highlights that for Bill and Sally, it might not be true and total belonging, but it is a sense of place in Mayfair society that they’ve earned, with some sacrifice, however also insisting on compromise on the part of the Mayfair crowd. Through the portrayal of identity as necessary to truly belong, Me and My Girl clearly demonstrates the nature of true belonging.
The Merchant of Venice conveys the idea that although people may sacrifice everything in the hope of truly belonging, this sense of belonging is not always attained. The scene portraying Jessica’s escape emphasises the numerous sacrifices she makes in order to belong to another ‘group. ’ Due to her disillusionment with her father, who seems to have her locked away, she begins seeking something more liberal. Her escape first and foremost symbolises her sacrifice of identity, of the bond with her father and her religion, in order to gain a new love and most importantly, a new place to belong, a new cultural identity.
Significant in the escape is her male attire, which further emphasises her willingness to ‘shed’ her true identity and assume another. The casket she passes down symbolises her giving away of her religious identity, in stark contrast to her father’s words later “I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkey’s” highlighting his cherishing of the ring as a symbol he shared with his wife. The robbery of the ducats further emphasises she is robbing her father of herself and their bond.
In the final scene, however, Jessica is alone, fingering the ring which symbolises a lost bond and the temple she no longer belongs to. The look of despair in the close shot of her face, combined with the pan out to the taller, greater surroundings suggests an unfamiliarity; her ‘smallness’ in this setting indicating her sense of not belonging although she sacrificed so much. Ironically, Jessica has traded her father, religion and identity where she truly belonged for a ‘true belonging’ which seems absent in this final scene.
Therefore, it is evident that although one may sacrifice aspects of their life to gain true belonging, they may never attain it. Selected poems from Peter Skzrynecki’s “Immigrant Chronicle,” Noel Gay’s play “Me and My Girl” and Michael Radford’s film interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” all portray the idea true belonging requires a strong sense of identity and in some cases sacrifice. All of these texts explore elements of what it means to truly belong and the sacrifices that may lead to this belonging, or in some cases, an inability to belong after sacrifice.