Belonging is just as much about exclusion as it is about fitting in. Belonging is a concept wholly linked to the morality and social connections one exercises. These factors foster the sentiments of alienation and acceptance hence showing how belonging is just as much about exclusion than fitting in. It is these factors that derive one’s belonging in society and hence some are excluded naturally. This collated idea is portrayed in Raimond Gaita’s memoir Romulus my father which is supported by George orwell’s 1984. Both texts emphasise the conundrum of belonging and how exclusion can be present with belonging as well as having the ability to fit in. Gaita expresses the irony of belonging in his memoir Romulus my father exposing how morality has an influencing factor in one’s belonging. Furthermore, Romulus’ nationalism for Romania is significant for his lack of belonging for his environment expressed through the line, “He longed for generous and soft European foliage, but the eucalypts of Baringhup, scraggy… seemed symbols of deprivation and barreness.”
The lexical change present emphasises Romulus’ alienation as it detracts from the positives of his new nation. This notion is further supported by his underlying desire to always “consider himself Romanian.” The morality of his nationalism therefore causes him to not belong and hence proves how belonging is just as much about exclusion as it is about fitting in. Gaita evidently comments on how belonging of an individual is influenced by their morality and hence showing how exclusion can be a result from morality therefore showing how exclusion is a part of belonging. Similarly orwell’s 1984 conveys the message of how exclusion is a large part of understanding belonging. This is mostly illustrated by the characterisation of the protagonist, Winston, and his alter ego, Julia.
Winston’s morality for the freedom of individuals is portrayed in the first chapter, shaped by the repetitious diary entries of “down with big brother.” In a society where the population admire and follow the government with every instruction, the morality of the protagonist defines him from the masses and hence he does not belong. This separation of morality is present in the line, “Winston turned his back to the telescreen,” the first inkling that he is trying to reduce the power that the government has over him. This notion is further emphasised through the metaphor “He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster.”
The metaphor alludes to how he is trapped between the Party’s nonsense principles and his own perception of reality, and ergo Winston experiences a metaphysical crisis that ultimately leads to his demise. Hence the protagonist’s exclusion, is what creates his belonging to the cause for freedom and ergo proving how exclusion is a large a component of belonging because morality is different between individuals. In addition, Romulus my father conveys how social connections can affect belonging of one, hence excluding as much as integrating belonging. This idea is mainly expressed through the polarised life of Romulus and Christine. Christine does not belong throughout the memoir due to her minimal social affiliations she has. As a result it leads to depression being described as “She was obviously and deeply depressed.
Desperately lonely, she was glad of any conversation that came her way.” The emotive language of the extent of her depression emphasises how relationships are needed to find a sense of belonging which mirrors the basic philosophies of Martin Bruber and Maslow, where relationships are needed to prosper. Furthermore, while Romulus taught Raimond the value of morals Hora taught him how to express and think. Raimond’s philosophical view on the world stems to this pivotal relationship with Hora, taking on a parental role while Romulus was in hospital following the motor bike accident, giving Raimond a sense of belonging. The parental role Hora plays creates an affectionate belonging for Romulus, as supported by the line “It was the only time I remember when my love for Hora and my father caused confused emotions in me towards either.”
These social interactions in the memoir evidently affect the belonging of few characters causing them to either belong or not belong. Orwell’s 1984 describes how relationships affect one’s belonging, hence excluding individuals. These relationships throughout the novel are limited because of restrictions and hence relationships are bland and isolate many. The protagonist’s social affiliations are fake with a subtle desire for authenticity which lead to his autodidact personality, excluding him from society. This concern is supported by the philosophy associated with relationships from the dystopia as “you don’t give a damn if they suffer.
All you care about is yourself.” This narcissistic attitude mirrors the idea that the lack of relationships leads to many not belonging together. This issue is supported further by the conceptual “hour of hate.” The alliteration of the ritual and repetition in the novel emphasise the harsh nature of relationships based on hate and hence excluding Winston from belonging in the dystopia.
It also acts as a motif to emphasise the break down of humanity and empathy in the novel. This notion of non belonging is introduced in the beginning of the novel as well through the sarcastic tone of “from the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of big brother,” where “from the age of” is repeated to portray the loneliness of the protagonist and how conformity is present throughout society. Therefore it is clear that orwell, expresses how belonging is just as much about exclusion as it is about fitting in.
Courtney from Study Moose
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