English Speech on Belonging

Belonging to a group or community has a significant impact on the individual’s sense of self.’

Discuss this statement, focusing on how the composers of the texts you have studied represent the concept of belonging.

The processes and results of belonging are recognised through the studied text ‘The Simple Gift’ written by Steven Herrick and the two additional texts; the film ‘Remember the Titans’ directed by Boaz Yakin and Bob Dylan’s song ‘The Hurricane’. These composers explore how belonging or not belonging to a group can affect an individual’s sense of identity and acceptance of themselves and others. Composers allow the audience to understand why people seek identity, acceptance, relationship and understanding. This exploration is achieved through setting, characterisation, visual and language techniques.

Steven Herrick’s ‘The Simple Gift’ is the story of a very lonely teenager named Billy; he is always left out, he is not accepted in his community and this impacts on his sense of self. This feeling of being the outsider co-exists with the additional texts. These texts recognise racial discrimination towards the black community and their feeling of isolation. Steven Herrick uses slang to emphasise Billy’s feeling towards his hometown; “deadbeat no-hoper shithole, lonely downtrodden house”. Slang is realistic and authentic; it reflects Billy’s age and poor socio-economic background, reinforcing his identity as an isolated teenager. This creates a negative image of home and helps the audience understand why he seeks identity elsewhere.

One setting where Billy finds acceptance is the library. Billy loves reading and when Billy loves reading and when Billy is reading he feels safe and secure, he is not restricted by the reality of his existence. Likewise, the characters in Boaz Yakin’s film ‘Remember the Titans’ must overcome the reality of their racial difference by uniting as one football team. The setting of the football field is one place where all...