Belonging Essay

Inclusion and estrangement
Belonging is a complex multi-faceted concept which reflects the individual’s inherent desire for a sense of connection with others, whilst simultaneously maintaining his or her personal identity and, through this, achieving harmonious and balanced relationships. To quote Cicero, “We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race”. However, this utopian ideal does not occur often and disconnection often occurs as a result of a relationship being undermined by a lack of connection with others. Such concepts are explored in Skrzynecki’s “Immigrant Chronicle” poem “Feliks Skryznecki” which not only explores his connection with his Polish heritage but also deals with his son’s estrangement from that heritage while “Migrant Hostel” by Peter Skrzynecki explores a group of people who have not been allowed to integrate with society and, instead, are estranged from Australian culture through these hostels. These ideas are also developed in Alice Walker’s short story “the flowers” which explores the idea that society does offer a sense of belonging so long as one accepts that such inclusion comes at the cost of acquiescence to limited social roles.
Alienation is a common experience for immigrants displaced from their cultural and social milieu into a foreign environment. This is explored in Peter Skrzynecki’s poem “Migrant hostel”. The poet describes the unsettlement that occurs within the migrant hostel with “Sudden departures from adjoining blocks”. This lack of settlement is epitomised by the use of the extended metaphor “birds of passage”, which compares the plight of these migrants to that of migratory birds that not only travel large distances but also live in a state of disorientation and uncertainty. This estrangement was further fuelled by the cramming of different races who were “partitioned at night by memories of hunger and hate”, demonstrating the lack of care given by the government. The effect...