‘An individuals identity is shaped by the way they perceive their connections with others and the world around them.’
How is this view represented in New Boy and Corrugated Castles?
The intrinsic nature of mankind can arguably be described as one's wish to develop a sense of connection to one another and the world around them; this desire to make connections can be described as the wish to Belong. Individuals identities can be shaped by the way they perceive these connections with others and the world around them. This crucial relationship between individual’s identities and belonging is explored in the short film, New Boy directed by Steph Green and in the novel Corrugated Castles composed by real life migrant Margaret Hill, all of which explore the potential barriers to feeling a sense of belonging. These barriers can be described as the inability to make connections due to different cultural backgrounds and feelings of alienation, discouraging one’s ability to make strong connections.
Migrants often feel a loss of identity and an absence of belonging due to cultural background differences. A common cultural background can lead to the development of relationships based on mutual interests. However, the opposite is also true – it is difficult to create connections when there is no common ground. This can be seen in texts based on the migrant experience such as the short film, New Boy. Through the use of the rhetorical question, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” we understand Joseph, an African migrant starting in an Irish school is immediately condemned to mocks made by the ignorant Irish students due to his cultural differences. The rhetorical question places a negative emphasis on Joseph’s African background, highlighting his immediate inability to make connections in an unfamiliar place. Threatening tones are also used to feature Joseph’s absence of belonging, as student Christian Kelley indicates that he is thoroughly unwelcome. The repetitive and derogatory dialogue spoken by Christian such as, “You’re dead” emphasises Joseph’s vulnerability as Christian utilises threatening tones to display that new children are not appreciated. Joseph identity is portrayed as alienated and dislocated from his classmates because of his cultural differences, deterring him from connecting to other students and feeling safe in his new school environment.
Feelings of isolation may result from one's relationship with a new place, and emotional alienation and disconnection can be the cause of discontent. This is emphasised in the story Corrugated Castles based on the migrant life of Margaret Hill in a corrugated iron hut in the Finsbury migrant hostel, Australia. Sensory detail can be comprehended in