How is the notion of belonging considered your prescribed and related texts?
The affect that the notion belonging has on one’s self perception can be attributed to the connection they hold with their environment and the people around them. Through the prescribed text Romulus, My Father (RMF) by Raimond Gaita, the film Invictus directed by Clint Eastwood and the lyrical poem Niggers, Niggas and Niggaz (NNN) by Julian Curry, the reader is able to understand the varying affect of belonging on individuals. This is evident through the presentation of the hardships that integration and assimilation present the characters.
The memoir RMF portrays the struggles of settlement in a foreign environment in aspiration to create a cultural and personal safe haven. Gaita emphasises the tensions faced in aiming to create a personal safe haven through repetition and rhetoric, accentuating his endeavours, “although – or perhaps because – my father worked so hard… he asked little of me.” Consequently, the reader is revealed Romulus’ disdain to western culture and traditions when he tears Raimond’s scrapbook of Rock and Roll, which he defends from “attack by older generations… which would overturn their values.” The creation of the scrapbook symbolises Raimond’s assimilation and desire to be a part of mainstream western civilisation. Gaita makes evident Raimond’s struggles through compromising the relationship with his father, “My relationship with my father had changed because I had asserted my independence,” this is later overshadowed through Raimond “absorb[ing] [his] father’s attitude to the countryside.” In emphasising Raimond’s continual progression within western culture Gaita contrasts Romulus’ sense of tradition. Raimond acclimatises to life in Australia through “alive to beauty, receiving a kind of shock from it.” This metaphor alludes to Raimond’s assimilation and how he now values the landscape and culture as a part of himself, anecdotally revealing the significance of both a sense of cultural belonging and a personal safe haven.
Similarly, the film Invictus by Clint Eastwood emphasises cultural obstacles that must be overcome in order for South Africa to gain a multicultural identity. Initially, Eastwood portrays the positive notion of Nelson Mandela being released to be ironically edited with a mis-en-scene of segregated white/black children playing sports. Such imagery emphasises the racial segregation that identified apartheid movement. Eastwood employs racial slurs such as “this is the day our country went to the dogs”, to illustrate the tension and racial differences. Through employing Chekhov’s gun, Eastwood is able to amplify the importance of reconciliation by allowing the audience to identify with a young African boy that startlingly celebrates with the white Afrikaans policemen. Eastwood instigates the motif of inspiration, “we need inspiration”, through his use of hypodiegesis as a means of Mandela’s influence on Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar. It is Eastwood’s inclusion of narrative irony that allows him to sterilise segregation through inspiration in the form of the rugby team whom must, “exceed [their] own expectations.” Through foreshadowing inherent differences between cultural and national identities, Eastwood conveys the need for national acceptance.
Gaita catalyses the migrant families’ sense of home through their relationship with Hora. Hora, is the “any other Romanian” Romulus seeks, and their “quickly becoming friends” is a result of filial and cultural bonding. Gaita foreshadows Hora’s negative undertones towards Christine, “[he] disliked her and did not respect her.” However through eucatastrophe, “Shurrup! He shouted at her… He could barely control himself… Leave! Now!”, he endorses the positivity resulting from his mothers lack of presence. It is thus evident that Hora begins to complement the loss of security that emerges within others, “[Raimond] owe[s] to Hora the development of [his] interest in ideas.” Through the synchronisation of values, Gaita allows Hora to connect with the family allowing his discovery of place within their social circle “he and my father often talked into the early hours of the morning.” Gaita’s representation of Hora’s facade through his “strong resonant voice… and passion” allows him to perpetually fulfill his role within the family. This is evident through Gaita’s emphasis on the motif of his vitality to Raimond’s integration and quest to belong “I owe… the course of my life to Hora.” This extrapolates how Hora’s involvement with the Gaitas contributes to their perception of home and security.
Through overcoming racial tensions, Eastwood forges bonds that become the social identity of white/black Afrikaans. Eastwood presents the audience with the allegorical relationship present between the white/black security guards. The use of fast cutting and match cuts through multi-cam setups are used to show the initial reluctance of the two heads of security as they are never kept in the same frame. Progressively, Eastwood begins to include the two within one frame and through the use of a dense depth of field surrounding the two subjects he amplifies the motif of reconciliation. The disconnection between races begins to resolve after Mandela first meets Pienaar, evident through Eastwood’s shots selection becoming wider and more inclusive of the black/white guards. He uses slow cutting shots manipulated with dissolves to emphasise his direction of scenes depicting a sign of acceptance through resolving eye contact between the guards. This reveals how through overcoming prejudice and stereotype cab shape ones perceptions of belonging.
The lyrical performance poem NNN demonstrates how a progressively accepted sense of belonging can be contributed to the lack of common and moral thought, one that is exacted from the comprehension of personal and cultural identity. Curry’s alliterative and homophonic use of the word nigger “What’s up my niggas? I said, what’s my niggaz?”, he exploits the ambiguity of his work and reveals a pun of the subject seen in the title, the word nigger. The clever use of tone and meter in his performance creates an atmosphere of light humour, one immediately juxtaposed with a swift change in tone, exposing the true meaning of the text. Curry’s homophonic repetition of the word nigger emphasises indecency of societal values through the illustration of “niggers [who’ve] been passed through our families, generations and generations like cancer,” employing smilie and metaphor. The repetition of the word nigger, becomes a prevalent motif within the work. His condescension of the word nigger as being the weapon that unintentionally rebukes black cultural heritage, is ironically attributed to“the kings of comedy, the all time nigger record holders.” Through accepting the hypocrisy of society, Curry allows the audience to feel a sense of hope and morality through being able to correctly respect and connect with their personal and cultural identities.
It is through the analysis of identity, cultural heritage, and filial bonds in RMF, Invictus and NNN exposes the different perceptions of belonging through the hardships of integration and assimilation through their perceived struggles.