When an individual experiences a sense of belonging they feel as though they are safe from threat and being misunderstand. Interactions with other individuals and the world around can give individuals senses of security which lead to experiencing belonging. In ‘The Simple Gift’ place is used to show belonging and not belonging through the three main characters Billy, Old Bill and Caitlin, who feel the disconnections from their place to find a sense of belonging. For Billy, the place where he should feel that he strongly belongs to, his home and his family is now the place where he has the feelings of alienation and anger. This is demonstrated in the poem where Billy’s abusive background, his father fittingly described as an ‘old bastard’ enables him to quickly discern suffering in others. Belonging occurs where an individual feels acceptance and security. Billy takes a literal journey to find a place to belong. Before leaving home, his happiest moments were at Westfield Creek and in Benderat he finds belonging in the library, his carriage and at the river the places that he feels connected to. The repetition of “I” emphasises the personal reaction of Billy to the peace and security. Through the use of ‘the old bastard’, the responder is made to feel the profanity conveying the anger and resentment he feels for the man who he is supposed to love and protect him. In this way, Herrick’s concept of belonging is shown to be a highlight of his social issues such as family breakdown and, alienation and loneliness.
Herrick’s presents the character of Caitlin in sharp contrast to Billy, as a girl who has everything. Her parents spoil her buying her “anything I want” but she is dismissive of their wealth; “Dad is too rich for his own good.” She finds the superficiality about her life unsatisfying. Herrick’s multiple first person narratives allow him to present her contrasting personal struggle to belong. For Caitlin, the place where she feels that she strongly belongs to is having Billy’s freedom. This is the demonstrated in the poem where the responder is told; she feels trapped by the confines of her surroundings; ‘\”this big ugly five bedroom/million dollar brick box”. However she undergoes a personal transformation as a result of her relation to the other narrators. When she comes unannounced and unexpected upon Billy with Old Bill she is initially shocked by what she sees and runs away. Through the use of Herrick’s multiple first person narratives allows him to present her to feel contrasting personal struggles to belonging. In this way, Herrick’s concept of belonging is shown to be that Caitlin’s choice is informed and productive for she does not denigrate her social class but merely rejects it as no longer being suitable for her. She now actively seeks a more meaningful relationship and lifestyle where