The Importance Of Belonging

Submitted By Cistulli
Words: 777
Pages: 4

In my study of Belonging, I have come to understand the importance of authenticity to oneself because it is when an individual will true feel they belong. Dickinson’s “I died for beauty but was scare,” (“beauty”) examines barriers to belonging through personal values. Also, Dickinson’s “I had been hungry all the years,” (“hungry”) explores how differences in ideas/values can result in a choice not to belong. However, in Homer Hickam’s novel October Sky involving belonging through a boy’s dream to launch rockets during the recession of a mining town, the composer explores acceptance through being true to oneself. Thus, authenticity to oneself is an undeniably crucial aspect in the complex experience of belonging.

Personal values can cause barriers to belonging due to societal proprieties. This may be due to the “hand of society” or due to human nature. In Dickinson’s “hungry”, the enjambment between the lines, “When one who died for truth was lain In an adjoining room,” draws a connection between those who strongly hold opinions against those of society such as those people who die for truth and people who die for beauty. The word choice of “kinsmen” and “night” in the simile, “as kinsmen met at night,” portrays the secret nature of having radical attitudes at the time, which was frowned upon in Dickinson’s context. The symbolism through the image in the line, “Until the moss reached our lips,” looks at how society is apathetic to the views of others, and how differing views can challenge a community or group. The metaphor in the following line, “And covered up our names,” suggests hostility towards foreign values and a loss of legacy for literary composers of the time, as they felt threatened by society to supress these values. Therefore, the mechanisms of society are a barrier to belonging to those with opposing ideas and values.

Belonging can be dissatisfying due to a distinct difference in ideas and the prevention of true sense of self. Dickinson’s poem 87 elaborates on this concept with the extended metaphor of “being hungry,” which is symbolic of longing to belong, emphasising choices to belong because the appealing notions around it. In Dickinson’s time, being ostracised was unfashionable, and inidivuals would sacrifice authenticity to conform to a judgemental society. The alliteration of the letter “h” in the line, “When turning hungry home,” linking the connection between being hungry, [lonely], and being at home, [being yourself], furthermore indicates the desire and choice to belong in people. The metaphor of the window in the line, “I looked in windows for the wealth,” alludes to the metaphorical barrier present in society which creates segregation between classes, genders, ages, and especially people. This can also be interpreted literally as the “wealth” resembles the upper class of society, and the ever-present division from other members of society. The simile in the line, “As berry of a mountain bush,” shows how the composer describes the persona of the poem as being too different from this class, implying the identity achieved through detaching oneself from society as a whole.