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Belonging Essay

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"Our bodies know they belong, it is our minds that make our lives so homeless" - John O'Donahue. Belonging is to be or feel included and accepted within either a social, religious, cultural and/or economic group. It can also be used as a term to describe how an individual feels a sense of satisfaction and happiness, uniting many people as one. Notions of belonging and not belonging may vary or they are shaped within personal, cultural, historical and social context. A sense of belonging can come from the connections made with people, places, communities and the larger world. Belonging can be shown in the two poems Migrant Hostel and 10 Mary Street from the book Immigrant Chronicles by Peter Skryznecki and the picture book The Arrival by Shaun Tan.

Perceptions of belonging and/or not belonging vary. In this poem, 10 Mary Street, Skryznecki explores ideas about home and place. The poet reminisces about the house he grew up in, it's garden and objects within, showing how they trigger memories about his parents, his childhood and cultural background. Throughout the poem techniques are used such as Repetition, Simile and Personification. The title "10 Mary Street" clearly establishes the setting. The house at 10 Mary street is an extended metaphor of Skryznecki's parents' cultural heritage and their efforts to retain it. First stanza, and repetition in the Fourth stanza, "For nineteen years" The repetition indicates the length of time they formed a connection to the house, it also emphasises the regularity of the families existence.

"Tended roses and camellias

Like adopted children", shown in the second stanza, this simile suggests the active involvement of the parents in creating and caring for their space/place of belonging. This concept is furthered through personification.

First seen in the Third stanza,

"The house stands

In its china-blue coat" Personification of the house reinforces how 'close' they feel to it, like it's a part of their family. It was then seen again in the Fourth stanza.

"Kept pre-war Europe alive

With photographs and letters,

Heated discussions

And embracing gestures" This is personification of pre-war Europe and details of polish food and drink which emphasised the parents strong cultural connection to Poland and suggests elements of alienation from Australia. Personification was seen one last time in the Final stanza

"We became citizens of the soil

That was feeding us" 'soil' suggests the earliest and most enduring sense of belonging came from living on the land.

Perceptions of belonging are shaped within personal, cultural, historical and social contexts. Migrant Hostel, set in Parkes 1949-1951, is about what it was like to live in a migrant hostel in central NSW after World War II. This poem explores the lack of identity and direction all migrants had to experience. Throughout the poem techniques such as, Symbolism, Personification, emotive language, Simile's and Enjambment are used. In the first stanza

"That left us wondering

Who would be coming next" is enjambment



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