Romulus Essay

Belonging is an inherent human condition in which we strive for acceptance an affinity in others through being part of a group or culture. The exclusion from groups as individuals strive to develop a sense of belonging will lead to them feeling alienated. The human need to belong can be seen in Raimond Gaita’s memoir ‘Romulus, My Father’ (RMF) (1998) through the characterisation and differing experiences of Raimond, Romulus and Christina. ‘Mankind is no Island’ (MNI), a short film by Jason van Genderen explores how being deliberately exclude from society causes individuals to feel alienated as they strive to be accepted.
Isolation can lead to individuals becoming estranged in their own environment. In RMF, this notion is evident through Christina, who in unable to cope with the loneliness of being unable to fit in. In the trouble of Christina’s displacement, Raimond describes her as “a troubled city girl, she could not settle… in a landscape that highlighted her isolation”. Christina is an allusion for the displaced socialite, hungry for a sense of fulfilment and security in a place where she cannot gain the acceptance she seeks.
In juxtaposition to Christina’s isolation, Romulus attempts to overcome his displacement living in Australia. Although he “longed for the generous and soft European foliage”, Romulus attempts to create a home for his family in Australia. He becomes accepted by the locals- “they call him Jack”, however this westernisation doesn’t do much in comforting him. Romulus, although gaining belonging in his community, still feels the absence of a greater cultural belonging that cannot be filled with a simple name change. Constant references to Europe by the narrator indicate to the responder that there will always be a connection to his homeland.
Raimond narrates in a sense of pleasant, optimistic nostalgia when discussing his father, Romulus. “Primitive though the house was… it offered hope that our family might be reunited”. This highlights the...