Migrant Hostel – HSC Belonging

Peter Skrzynecki’s poem “Migrant Hostel” tells the story of thousands of migrants coming to Australia after World War II. His poem describes the displacement and alienation these migrants felt. As a migrant himself Skrzynecki reflects on the feeling of being in a new country not knowing anyone, not speaking the language and not knowing what was going to happen next. He describes the alienation and the sense of not belonging that migrants feel when first coming to a new country.

“Comings and goings/……newcomers/………busloads/……….sudden departures”.   This list of vocabulary is associated with the transitory environments which thousands of migrants lived in after the Second World War. Skrzynecki uses this technique of a list to convey a sense of dislocation by the migrants. He uses words such as “comings and goings” to describe the uncertainty of their lives. These words are contrasting and suggest that there is no sense of permanence and that the hostel is a temporary environment.

“like a homing pigeon/ circling to get its bearings” is a simile used by Skrzynecki to create the sense of disorientation migrants first experience upon arrival at the hostel. As they get their “bearings” they find others of the same nationality so that they do not feel so isolated and dislocated. With the words “Years and place names/ recognised by accents” Skrzynecki conveys how the migrants affiliate themselves by identifying others from their own country. As soon as they form an association through shared nationality they were “partitioned off at night/ by memories of hunger and hate”. This metaphor represents the way thousands of migrants shared living quarters, no matter what prejudices existed between the different nationalities. “Memories of hunger and hate” is alliteration which describes the hostility between nationalities, though they are all “hungry” for the one thing – a new life in Australia where they hope they can live without fear....