Examine this proposition in the light of your study
Belonging is a state, which enhances one’s identity or sense of a person’s worth. In Steven Herrick’s Australian free verse novel, The Simple Gift, the notion of identity and it’s value is explored through characterisation. Billy Luckett has the negative identity of a runaway and displaced hobo at the commencement of this text, but his identity develops through his connection to others he values. To reinforce this, John Green’s contemporary American novel, Looking for Alaska, is about a 16 year old Miles Halter moving to boarding school, who at first, did not have a sense of self. Both characters, Billy and Miles create relationship where the feel accepted, thus leading them to find their identity.
In the commencement of this book, Billy is depicted negatively and with a poor sense of self because of a disconnected town and family. He cannot relate to his community as he has an unpleasant disconnection, which is evident in this quote, “one rock on the roof of each deadbeat no hoper sh*thole lonely downtrodden house”. Herrick utilizes negative words referring to his community emphasising Billy’s disconnection. As he evidently does not belong with his community, he furthermore does not belong to his school, which is essential in the adolescent years to find your self. It builds up from the foundation of who you will become 8thus leaving Billy with a poor sense of identity lost within a detached community.
Not only is Billy not belonging to a community, but his family as well. Billy does not connect with his abusive father. His father “grabbed the ball, kicked it over the back fence… gave me one hard back hander across the face… and said no more sport, no more forever.” The ball is used as a metaphor for Billy’s sense of belonging with his father. When Billy’s father kicks his ball as well as a “hard backhander” it adds up to a negative connection to his father. Society says that family is required to begin a starting foundation to finding your identity but with Billy’s obvious disconnection with his father, it is too late and difficult to find a sense of self. With his disconnection to both the community and family, his sense of self deteriorates and falls into a cloud of displacement.
However, when Billy creates relationships, his identity progresses positively and his sense of worth grows. Billy’s relationship with Caitlin evidently shows his identity developing. “I insert the key and turn it slowly and push the door and walk inside” plainly displaying major progression into a new life where he and Caitlin belong together. The door is used as a metaphor to represent a new life built from his newfound relationships, which additionally add to his finding of his identity. Billy explains his connectedness to Caitlin as “a badly-dressed satellite spinning crazily in her orbit” showing his recent relational belonging and highlighting the value it brings to him. Caitlin, as well as Old Bill, pulls Billy out of himself, and allows him to open up to others, learning to trust and share himself emotionally thus finding himself a developed sense of self.
When Billy builds a relationship with Old Bill, his identity of a teenage runaway turns into a carer and possibly a son to Old Bill. Old Bill and Billy “share a beer… and he gives me advice” treat each other like the family they never truly had. This quote clearly shows a sense of friendship and belonging which in turn helps Billy develop a positive and greater identity when Old Bill “gives me advice” to progress from his previous identity.
In Looking for Alaska, the protagonist Miles Halter, at first does not belong in his community; partly mirroring Billy. Miles feels like an outcast and an uncertainty in himself, so he “ ‘go to seek a Great Perhaps.’