Belonging: Romulus My Father and Related Texts

In Romulus, My Father, focus is placed on several different foundations for which our identity, and in turn our sense of belonging, is formed. The memoirs emphasis on setting and place acts as a metaphor to reflect Gaita’s orientation of self, which contextualises and explores the challenges of diaspora, and provides a framework for the text’s central tenet, that from suffering, wisdom is gained. Consequently, the autobiographical nature of Gaita’s memoir provides the subjective parameters by which Romulus’ formative conditions of deprivation and betrayal shape his and his son’s sense of Self.

The autobiography offers an unmediated and stabilising exploration of the Self.
Throughout Gaita’s piece of life writing, it becomes clear to the audience that the purpose of Romulus, My Father is to reflect on life’s critical lessons. This is highlighted by the composition of the text, which places more emphasis on critical moments of philosophical enlightenment than it does on details and events. Where does Raimond learn these valuable lessons from? Through his father’s relationships, ideals and actions.

Gaita expresses the importance of his father with the quote “I know what a good workman is, I know what an honest man is. I know because I remember these things in the person of my father,” which utilizes repetition to emphasise and glorify his father’s life. Juxtaposition is also used to highlight Romulus’ admirable qualities by contrasting them with the morals of Mitru and Christine, which are considered “weak.”

Barack Obama’s Dreams of My Father captures the strengths, weaknesses and lessons that Obama learned from several men who fathered him. His birth father, whose story he finally discovers, his maternal grandfather, whose innocence could have easily led to cowardive as heroism, his Idonesian stepfather, who taught him the importance of strength, and the old black poet, who gave him a sense of black American history. Each of these encounters inform Obama...