Belonging Essay

Submitted By SarahHammoud2
Words: 1212
Pages: 5

Belonging is the intrinsic string that weaves the discrete elements of a society together, and which endows its individuals with a sense of companionship, security and solidarity. Peter Skrzynecki in his poems Feliks Skrzynecki and St Patrick’s College and Tim Winston’s, Aquifer, in different ways, comment on the pivotal role that self-identity, conformity and traumatic events plays in influencing one’s capacity to mutual belonging in a society. However, both composers elucidate the importance of identity on one’s ability to feel mutual belonging with the wider community.
In Feliks Skrzynecki, Peter Skrzynecki explores the positive effects that a tenacious self-identity can have on one’s capabilities to feel mutual belonging. He first marvels at the self- sufficient strategies that his non-conformist father, Feliks, uses to feel at home, especially in a foreign environment. Skrzynecki strongly characterises his father through his utilisation of a symbolic cliché to describe how his father ‘kept pace only with the Joneses of his own mind’s making,’ to illustrate his father’s strong and unbreakable identity. From this, through his vivid imagery coupled with the simile to describe Feliks’ ‘fingers with cracks like the sods he broke,’ he interrogatively questions how he ‘often wondered how he existed on five or six hours sleep each night.’ But Skrzynecki attempts to explain through his hyperbole coupled with a simile about how his father ‘loved his garden like an only child, spend years walking its perimeter.’ Here he explains that it was his strong filial sense of belonging with his garden that allowed him to remain jubilant, even during tough times. So, despite ‘five years of forced labour in Germany Skrzynecki explains how his father is still able to ‘sit out the evening with his dog…happy as I have never been.’ Through this use of a tranquil tone, Skrzynecki also illustrates that through his tenacious self-identity, he is still able to maintain his sense of belonging to his culture and be happy, despite living through a harsh life. So from this, Skrzynecki outlines how a tenacious self-identity has the ability to maintain happiness in individuals so that they are able to maintain their sense of belonging with themselves and their families. Like Feliks, St Patrick’s College unveils the importance of one’s identity to one’s ability to feel mutual belonging with the wider community. However, St Pat’s unravels that conformity is not always the panacea to establishing a strong sense of mutual belonging with other individuals. To highlight this, Skrzynecki adopts a dark and sombre tone to recapitulate his lonely and reclusive journey through a high school that indoctrinated cohesive and religious values, accentuated by his recurring biblical motif of “Our Lady”, which may have ironically contributed to his very alienation. In fact, his clever play with the contrasting light and dark imagery incites a chilling atmosphere that is in antithesis with the polarity between the luminescent connotations in the school motto “Luceat Lux Vestra”, denoting to “let your light shine”, with the gloomy sensory imagery of the “darkness around me”. Thus, Skrzynecki evidently also believes that induced conformity is not the antidote, but rather the toxin to achieving a unified sense of belonging within a community. More specifically, Skrzynecki’s satirical mockery about how he thought the school motto was “a brand of soap” employs sarcasm to intimate that isolated individuals may even develop a fractured sense of purpose and react rebelliously and disrespectfully if beliefs are induced before a strong self-identity is developed. Hence as, like Feliks, Peter Skrzynecki manifests that uniforms and uniformity cannot influence or control one’s identity, but in fact push them further away from feeling any sense of belonging with the school. Like in both of Skrzynecki’s poems, Winton’s Aquifer elucidates the powerful influences that identity can have