Kendall Mclennan

Belonging is a feeling that everyone wants to experience. We want to feel like we have a place in the world. Just as easily as we can create a sense of belonging with our identity, relationships, and experiences, we can also not belong. However, not belonging is not necessarily a choice. There may be specific circumstances that mean that we do not belong to a particular environment. These concepts of belonging are strongly represented in Peter Skrzynecki’s poems, Migrant Hostel and St. Patrick’s College and the picture book, The Arrival by Shaun Tan. These 3 texts all represent the connection between places and belonging or not belonging by using visual and literary techniques.
Skrzynecki’s poem Migrant Hostel is a poem about the migrants that came to Australia after World War II. The migrants were expected to leave their homes, a place where they belonged, and come to an unknown land where they were treated appallingly; they were put into cramped, confined living conditions and didn’t know the language. The Australian Government wanted migrants to come to Australia after the war to help rebuild the country. Despite this the Government treated them like a number in a file. The language in the 1st stanza conveys a sense of anonymity. Even though the migrants were fairly isolated, they wanted to feel some sense of security, so nationalities “sought out each other instinctively”. This was their first step in feeling like they belong.

To get that sense of belonging we must first experience not belonging. The Arrival is a picture book about a man who leaves his family, a place where he belongs, and goes in search of a new life for his family. He ends up in a new city, where he does not speak the language and everything is foreign to him. The book has no words in it, which conveys the protagonists inability to communicate with people in the new city.

Skrzynecki and the main character have something in common; they feel like they don’t belong to their respective...