A person belongs wherever he or she chooses. Discuss with relation to the texts that you have studied, and at least 1 supplementary text.
Our idea of belonging and affinity is a result of the choices that we make. We feel a sense of acceptance wherever we choose to belong. This is explored in Peter Skrzynecki’s poems Feliks Skrzynecki and 10 Mary St, through the poet’s depiction of the relationship between his father and himself. SUPPLEMENTARY TEXTS…
It is only through our own personal choice that we choose to belong, or in some cases, not belong.
Skrzynecki’s poem Feliks Skrzynecki explores the concept of belonging, highlighting that man has the choice to include himself in a community, or to live in isolation. Through the cultural independence of his father, the poet underlines man’s choice in whether he belongs or not. The garden, “loved like an only child”, is a symbol for Poland, the homeland of the persona’s father. His powerful, almost familial affinity with his homeland underlines his choice to not accept Australian culture, but instead to seek solace in his own world. This attachment, as the audience is told that the poet’s father has “swept its [the garden’s] paths ten times around the world.” Such hyperbole emphasizes Feliks’ strong connection with his garden: it is the only place in his world in which he truly belongs. Feliks is juxtaposed with his son, who begins to lose touch with his father’s culture. The persona, while “stumbling over tenses in Caesar’s Gallic War…forgot his first Polish word”. The Polish language is a motif for his belonging in his father’s world: the persona has begun to lose touch with his culture, and has chosen to belong in Australian culture. He is moving “further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall”, a historical allusion which is symbolic of the cultural barrier between the persona and his father. The further the persona immerses himself in Australian culture, the more disasscosciated he is from his father, and his father’s Polish culture. Feliks Skrzynekci portrays its two personas and their respective choices to belong in their respective worlds.
10 Mary Street provides its readers with insight into the concept of familial bonds, and our instinctive choice to belong in the home. Through the simile “I’d ravage the backyard garden like a hungry bird…” Skrzynecki compares himself to a fledgling bird safe in the security of his nest. Another simile, “rows of sweet corn: tended roses and camellias, loved like adopted children.” Hyperbolically emphasizes the strong connection felt by his parents; a sense of their strong belonging to their 10 Mary Street residence. Their home is the site of numerous “heated discussions and embracing gestures”, a testament to the liveliness and friendliness present in the house. Furthermore the cumulative listing of ‘kielbasa’, ‘salt herrings…rye bread… raw vodka and cherry brandy’ conveys a sense of cultural heritage present within the house. The address becomes an extrapolation of the lives that his parents were displaced from in Poland. The home is a reflection of the choices made by his parents in leaving their Polish heritage. Here Skrzynecki ‘for nineteen years… lived…’ his Australian life style, while his parents ‘kept prewar Europe alive with photographs and letters.’ This juxtaposition portrays the ‘adopted’ nature of the home for his parents as a refuge, and for the persona as a ‘home’.
A particular image juxtaposes Woods with her full-blooded Chinese cousin. In the image, Vanessa is a brown haired and blue eye, while her cousin is the stereotypical image of a black haired Asian. The image emphasizes upon the sense of alienation and displacement felt by the author living with her mother’s hard-line Chinese family. The inability of the persona to belong is evident in her disgruntled, sarcastic tone throughout the article. Her use of hyperbolic metaphor “from a big house in Turramurra, we are living in a Troll cave in Kingford,” suggests the antipathy felt by the persona towards her mother’s divorce. This is further emphasized through the irony of her anecdote ‘I steal to combat our poverty.’ In which upon her arrest her mother is ‘ashamed, for failing to teach me… for failing to make me warm and safe.’ When her mother buys her the item she had stolen. The narrator feels a profound sense of regret and guilt, instead choosing not to accept the item. Despite her mother having as ‘all the sensitivity of a Japanese Scientist harpooning a whale.” The persona chooses to ‘no longer begrudge her friend’s mothers who overflow with constant affirmation.’ She uses an anecdote to convey the strong familial bonds that overshadow her inadequate childhood. Her mother can only afford five chicken wings. Yet “my sister has two… I have two… mother has one, and in this sacrifice I see love.”
Hence through dichotomy of both familial love and growing anxieties, we are able to appreciate the power of choice in forming our sense belonging.