The Simple Gift

“A true sense of belonging is mostly dependent on feeling at one with your place and comfortable with your relationships.”
To what extent does this statement reflect your understanding of belonging and not belonging in your prescribed text?

Developing strong and worthwhile relationships with ourselves, others and our places of existence is crucial for a sense of belonging. To a large extent, this is portrayed in the free verse novel, The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick as it explores the characters of Billy the protagonist, Caitlin the private school girl and Old Bill the hobo. At the beginning of each chapter, each character feels a sense of not belonging, but this changes as their relationships with each other develops.   Steven Herrick touches on the message that when we belong we feel included, accepted and safe and when we do not belong we feel separated, lonely and miserable.

At the beginning of The Simple Gift, Billy feels like he doesn’t belong in his world. This is highly shown in the poem “Sport” as Billy feels separated and lonely, lacking a loving father-son relationship, due to his father’s destructive aggression towards Billy conveyed through the line, “he gave me one hard backhander across the face, So hard I fell down.” The use of sarcastic and blunt tones throughout this poem supports the expectations that Billy had about his father’s feelings to the note he left, “See ya dad.. celebrate your son leaving home”. Billy expects that his father will be pleased about his running away rather than being sad, portraying his father and their lack of relationship in a negative light.

Billy feels a lack of belonging to his town, Nowheresville. In the poem “Longlands Road” through the line “Deadbeat no hoper shithole lonely downtrodden” showing Billy’s steam of consciousness about the disgust he holds for the town and his difficulty to belong. “Deadbeat” and “lonely” suggest the town has no life, no people, nothing. Therefore, Billy finds it hard to...