Romulus My Father - Belonging

Notes: Romulus My Father
In Romulus My Father, the connection between Raimond and his father Romulus ensures that both of them can establish a sense of belonging. The strength of Raimond’s bond with his father, established during the son’s formative years, contributes to resilience in their relationship that works against the alienating effects of Romulus’s illness. The descriptive anecdote of Romulus’ ferocious outbursts: ‘Once he hit me, knocking me to the floor. I rose in a blind rage and went for him’ represents the complexity of their connection, layering their bond of affection with the emotions of anger and frustration. Despite the representation of these negative emotions, the line: ‘I loved him too deeply and knew that after what we had shared at Frogmore, no quarrel could estrange us’ suggests that the emotional bonds of the present are forged by common histories. The passionate intensity of Raimond’s declaration of affection is represented through the assertion: ‘no quarrel could estrange us.’ Here it is clear that despite the challenges posed by Romulus’s illness, the foundational histories that forged a strong familial sense of belonging through the connection of their relationship cannot be erased.

The inability to belong is framed through disconnection, which is represented by the theme of mental illness in the book, which Raimond’s mother Christina suffers from. Mental illness is framed as an affliction that may disconnect individuals from communities to which that they might otherwise feel bound. Christina is represented as too dysfunctional to fulfill her desire to connect with her son and suffers because of her struggle and failure. After she had left Romulus for Mitru, she returned, with Raimond recalling ‘she tried harder than I ever remembered to care for me’, the selection of the word ‘harder’ reinforcing her desire for emotional connection. In Raimond’s recount of this contact with his mother, the ‘burnt meat’ she cooked becomes a...