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Belonging Essay

Response A sense of belonging can be found in many different places. But for one to belong to self, group or place one must fully understand one’s past. Peter Skrzynecki’s “10 Mary Street” and “Migrant Hostel” are two poems that explore his past, showing his attitudes and his quest to belong. Another text that explores this author’s past is John J. Encarnacao’s short story “Coming of Age in Australia”. These texts all explore relationships and feelings of cultural isolation. Relationships can be found in all 3 texts. Whether they are in the past or the present, they still form a basis to belong.

Skrzynecki’s poem “Migrant Hostel” depicts the ? rst place that Skrzynecki arrives in Australia. From the beginning, it can been seen that Skrzynecki belongs to a forever changing group, a group of migrants held in a hostel where “No one kept count – Off all the comings and goings. ” These opening lines give a sense of insecurity and instability. However, the “Arrival of newcomers”, shows the positive side of the migrant group, all embracing each other, and belonging to each other. With out this experience, however negative it may seem, Skrzynecki would not have been able to retell this story, his story, and ? d the places, or groups that he belongs to today. Another poem of Skrzynecki’s that explores relationships is “10 Mary Street”.

Throughout this poem, the reader watches young Skrzynecki grow up and develop. In the beginning of the poem, Skrzynecki is naive to the world around him, “For nineteen years we departed each morning – Shut the house – Like a well-oiled lock”. He is placed into a routine. He does not know his own way, only to do as he is told. This poem explores the lack of a relationship, this lack that could shape one and possibly damage one’s self. My Parents watered plants – grew potatoes and rows of sweet corn: Tended roses and camellias – Like adopted children”. Skrzynecki feels unloved, like his parents care more for their plants than for their child. Without this relationship of work between parents and child, it would not have developed Skrzynecki personality into the one it is today. A similar type of relationship is shown in Encarnacao’s “Coming of Age in Australia”. Encarnacao is lost in Australia, his new country, “It has taken me 36 years, six kids, a divorce and a dozen jobs to come of age in Australia”. He feels secluded as a child.

THe only way that he felt he could belong was to ? ght, “Fighting was a part of life”, “you had to ? ght – and win. It was the only way of gaining respect. ” Encarnacao was lost, unloved, and didn’t belong. For him to belong in today’s society, “An Australian will still call me dago – but most of the time, it is over a friendly beer”. He had to ? ght his way through the harm, and become immune to the torment to become a man in Australia. Like every person in the world, Skrzynecki and Encarnacao made judgements, some good and some bad, and some that isolated them from other parts of their new culture.

This judgements can be what what shapes a person, the can make a child into a man. Encarnacao’s wrong judgement to ? ght may have helped him develop a sense of belonging to a darker side of the world, but without it he would not have become the man he is today. This can be found in Encarnacao’s “Coming of Age in Australia”. Encarnacao now understands that what he did, help build the society of today, “I was not to know that Australia was growing up along with me”. Skrzynecki was faced with similar problems in his childhood.

In “Migrant Hostel” Skrzynecki is in captivity, belonging to a group of so called outsiders. He had only found hope on the darkest of places, “Needing its sanctions to pass in and out of lives – That had only begun – or were dying”. He thought his only way out was death. Similarly, in “10 Mary Street” Skrzynecki thinks he ? nds his place of belonging, to belong to Australia, “We became citizens of the soil – That was feeding us Inheritors of a key – That’ll open no house – When this on is pulled down. ” but he has lost his pre-war identity and does not feel like he belongs to Australia.

With the bene? t of their current lives, both Skrzynecki and Encarnacao now know that their possible bad judgements, that caused them pain, have helped them to ? nd a sense of belonging today. Skrzynecki and Encarnacao tell their past, a past of exclusion and pain. But without them understanding their past, they would not have been able to ? nd their place or group of belonging that they are a part of today. This is re? ected in Skrzynecki’s “Immigrant Chronicle” and Encarnacao’s short story “Coming of Age in Australia”.

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