Concept, perceptions and ideas to belong or not to belong differ from person to person. This is due to experiences that shape ones personality that come through personal, cultural, social and historical context. The idea of belonging allows one to have some sort of connection and communal with people, places, groups, communities and the wider world. In contrast not belonging causes one to suffer from alienation, exclusion and marginalisation. As a result these factors can cause an individual to be at different states of depression depending on one’s personality and situation.
However in society, belonging has become and essential to life. Many texts have explored the notion of belonging and not belonging; the play Rainbows End by Jane Harrison and the short film Between the Flags Produced by Jayce White explore the concept of belonging and not belonging to place and people through several forms. Rainbows End by Jane Harrison is a play that explores the concept of belonging and not belonging thorough Harrison’s choice of cultural and historical context at the time.
The play is set in the 1950’s during the time Queen Elizabeth II was visiting Australia and whilst many racist policies where practiced such as the Assimilation, Paternalistic and the White Australia policy which all discriminated and alienated the Aboriginal people from the wider community. Throughout the play, it is manifest the Aboriginal people belong and do not belong to certain placed and people. This is shown through a conversation that Nan Dear his with Dolly about her birthplace, “Well, of course I’m not gunna die. Not here anyway.
Gotta go back to my old place to do that. Nan Dear Act One Scene One. This quote conveys Nan Dear’s idea of belonging to place, she assertively expresses to dolly that this is not her place and she will eventually return to where she fits most, through this may not be physically but rather spiritually, which is also part of the aboriginal culture and traditions. The understanding to belong, not belong and the longing to belong alters from one individual to another, this is extensively due to one’s overall background experiences which have ultimately shaped ones thoughts and ideas on the various notions of belonging.
This is very evident throughout the play, Rainbows End as different perceptions of belonging are conveyed through conversations and incidents that occurs from characters of different social and historical background. An example of such is the conversation that Errol and Dolly have about the differences in their families. Errol attempts to convince Dolly that he is willing to give her a better life, if she agrees to marry him but away from her family. Dolly does not agree with Errol Fisher’s views on a better life and continues to question his thoughts through the repetition of his words.
DOLLY: You want me to leave here for ever? ERROL: I’m offering you a better life. DOLLY: A better life? ERROL: In the city there’s department stores so big that you can spend all day in them. Why in the city there’s even little restaurants you can eat spaghetti, just like Italy. DOLLY: Spaghetti? This conversation portrayed Errol and Dolly’s different perceptions of belonging. The use of the repetition is ironic as Dolly has her family and place does not understand the meaning of “better life”.
The connection that dolly has with her family and place has created her to feel comfortable there regardless of all the discriminatory acts of the time. Errol and Dollydiffering opinions come through their social and cultural context which causes them to continuously clash between each other. “Your world. And you’re just assuming that your world is better. But actually, when I think about it- when I think about nasty Nancy – she has everything that opens and shuts. I’m not sure it isbetter. I wouldn’t trade placer with her for anything.
And as far as you’re offering … no thank you. This is my place. I’m staying right here with my Mum and Nan” despite Dolly not being a young adult who has subjected to racial incidents, that could be prevented in the future if she accepts to marryErrol The short film Between the Flags is a Tropfest film that references and represents the incident that had occurred in the year of 2005, Cronulla riots, concerning two racial groups; the Australian and the Lebanese, which caused violence and division amongst the two races.
If mixing of the two diverse racial groups had occurred at the time it often resulted in a brawl and further conflict; however the filmBetween the Flags argues this conviction through a humorous way. Several forms such as: humour, irony, popular culture and themes such as the beach and “typical Australian bloke” support the idea that two or more people can intertwine together regardless of any dispute one being removed from the external society.
The use of irony is used throughout the complete film, it creates humour in-between the two characters which generates harmony amongst them, this is apparent in the film. An example of this is when the Lebanese character (character are not given names instead each represents an ethnicity which is shown through their choice of costume) approaches the Australian bloke: “What’s goin on” – Lebanese boy “G’day mate” – Australian bloke “Here for the riots” – Lebanese boy “Yeah, looks like we’re the first ones here” – Australian bloke “Maybe we should wait for a more people” – Lebanese boy The conversation between them continues the irony of the situation is the conversation that occurs, and also the use of such words such as “mate”, as both of them are at the beach to riot against each other; instead they involve themselves together in a communal conversation.
Throughout give-and-take of words between the two characters they both felt a sense belonging and ease towards each other even through the beach was supposed to be a place of non-belonging and dispute. This was majorly due to them being part of the popular culture and sharing the same interest.
Their reactions were shown through the use of close up camera shots, as they enable the viewer to understand the characters emotions and have a sense of empathy towards them. The short film Between the Flags uses the beach as the setting to the film, as this is also references to the Cronulla riots as they had occurred at the beach. The attitudes that the characters have towards the beach affirm that it is a place of regular social call, also part of each ones character regardless of their ethnic background.
Two characters connection with the beach enables the viewers to have an immediate understanding that it is a place of belonging to one another. This is manifest in the film through the connection that the characters grow due to playing a game of cricket, nevertheless in the film the beginning of the game the Lebanese character says “umm I don’t usually do this but…” this had displayed to the audience that he is not too liking of cricket but he starts to play as it is most appropriate to do so.
This was shown through a continuous full camera shot to show the characters interaction with each ther and to also display the setting of the film. Throughout exploring and analysing texts it has become most evident that people views of belonging is constructed through their perception on the place. This concept was explored in the two texts Rainbows End by Jane Harrison and the short film Between the Flags produced by Jayce White as both texts had explored belonging, not belonging or the longing to belong to a place through the perceptions and the social, historical, cultural and personal context of an individual determined their sense of belonging and not belonging.
Courtney from Study Moose
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