Belonging Essay

Submitted By sorrynoname
Words: 765
Pages: 4

Belonging is an extremely intricate idea in which many aspects play part in attributing an individual’s sense of belonging. An individual may seek conformity or choose to resist conformity and this will have a major impact upon a person’s sense of self. Both the memoir and the poem are written in the context of the migrant experience. Immigrants are a central idea engraved within Raimond Gaita’s memoir, Romulus, My Father and Sylvia Kantarizis’ poem, Integrated, and the concept of immigrants feeling dislocation within an alien landscape contributing to a lesser sense of belonging. The two texts also bring forth the idea that perception has a deep effect on one’s sense of their place within the world.
The complexity of belonging is portrayed through the idea that the uniqueness of each person is dampened by the desire to conform to the “norm” of society. In the time of setting of Romulus, My Father, the women were “especially vulnerable to the deadening attractions of middle-class respectability”. The negative connotations of “vulnerable” and “deadening” suggest that the women were overlooking their sense of individuality in search of acceptance by society. This is the reason why Christine was not able to integrate into the Australian landscape and love her surroundings. Australia could not bestow the ideal “conceptual environment for her to find herself” and for the society to “understand her”. Dissimilarly, the Greek woman in Integrated has not dropped her own sense of self in order to adapt and be part of the Australian society that surrounds her. She has rather “brought her country with her” and the metaphor implies that she has surrounded herself with all items of her own identity, except for the “donkeys and white taverna” as opposed to embracing the “wattle, leafy mango trees, kookaburras…”. The contrasting views convey to us the concept that, if an individual needs to conform to feel acceptance then they will lose their sense of identity, but alternately, will not integrate into society effectively if trying to keep their own uniqueness. Hence, this reveals the intensely complex ideas behind belonging.
A substantially lesser connection to the environment around a migrant is sourced by a dislocation within the alien landscape. Romulus’ “European or English eye” viewing the Australian landscape does not let him to feel a strong bond with the land that Australians would feel towards it. He still longs for the “generous and soft European foliage”, causing him to view the Australian landscape as “desolate” and “scraggy”. Gaita’s use of juxtaposition of the positive emotive words of “soft” and “generous” with the negative emotive words “desolate” and “scraggy” emphasises the idea that his father experienced an ongoing connection with the land that he was physically part of. It opposes his father’s sense of detachment with the Australian landscape, illustrating why his father “could not become reconciled to it.” Likewise, the disconnection with the Australian land of Romulus corresponds with that of the Greek woman in