Morning/Afternoon, fellow students. As all of you have had the unfortunate task to study belonging as part of the hsc, and many of you are sitting here zoning my speech out but belonging to people and place is one of the main reasons why we want to belong. In Orson Scott Card’s novel Enders Game it is a major struggle for young Ender Wiggin and he feels like he will never belong. Belonging is not welcomed but is still portrayed deeply in Sean Penn’s film Into the Wild with Chris McCandless never fully understanding the concept of belonging. These texts demonstrate belonging both differently and similarly to Steven Herrick’s free-verse novel The Simple Gift.
The human kind has always looked for people to belong to as it is one the most basic instincts for us humans to look for. Sean Penn had the challenge to demonstrate the life of Chris McCandless. At the age 22 from an affluent background Chris felt like he did not belong in the life he was living and unlike most people his age he got and left his life behind him and “risked… a relentlessly lonely path”. Penn uses narration to explain how Chris had the ability to belong to a father like man (Ron) but instead Chris continued to walk down the lonely path.
Through the flashbacks in scenes on Chris’s life with Rainey and Jan Burres, who practically begged Chris to stay with them and have the chance to belong but still he didn’t take that chance. Sean Penn is able to illustrate that Chris’s understanding of belonging was obscure. But still Chris couldn’t find the ability to belong to other people and took his whole lifetime to understand that “Happiness is only real when shared.” In The Simple Gift Billy a similar person to Chris but unlike Chris, Billy had the ability to belong to people and was able to settle down because of his sense of belonging.
Orson Scott Card’s protagonist Andrew Wiggin also known as ‘Ender’ was born into a post-modern society and he is referred to as genetically perfect and intellectually smarter and the age of 8 he was asked to leave home and go to train to become the best military leader. The men in charge have one job and it “is to produce the best soldiers in the World”. Through the uses of irony of creating a child soldier Mazor Rackham (man in charge) assumed that there would no consequences to Ender’s life, from creating a child military leader, thus this caused Ender to never belong to anyone. Graff (the man who trained Ender) “wanted to help Ender” but would rather create a better soldier. Through the contradiction of Graff wanting to help Ender but Graff being determined to create a better soldier, which forced Ender into isolation and had no one to belong too. Orson Scott Card is able to portray the effects of lack of belonging on Ender and show how it affects people. Alike to the Simple Gift and Into the Wild both protagonists never felt belonging with their parents. Even both characters may not have faced such a harsh lack of belonging compared to Ender but both Billy and Chris still new the toll it can take on someone.
Most people want to belong to a place which causes people to search for belonging and the ability to call a place home. Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game try’s to demonstrate, how Ender struggled to belong to places but believed that Battle School was “the only place in the universe where he belonged.” Card uses hyperbole to help the audience understand that the child Ender had made an attachment and belonged to place and thought it as home. When Ender got forced to move on from the only place Ender liked “He hated it. He wanted to go back home, back to the Battle School.” Through short sentencing Card is able to illustrate that when ender arrives back to his original home he did not belong. The audience is able to understand the desperation for young Ender to get back to his home and belong. Similar to Ender’s Game, The Simple Gift Billy did not now what to do when he knew that he might have to leave his newly founded home.
In Sean Penn’s film Into the Wild belonging is not part of Chris’s vocabulary. Chris as a young man had lived in more places than most people can imagine. Chris’s lack of belonging to these places causes him to keep moving from place to place even though he had the chance to belong. Through compressed time of the film shows Chris constantly moving around and demonstrate to the audience that Chris does not understand belonging and missed the happiness he was looking for. At the end of Chris’s life he is able to determine what the true meaning of happiness is and that he had the chance to belong. Through the close up of Chris’s last breath facial expressions shows sadness that Chris had places to belong too but in his dyeing breath he knew that he had missed his chance .
Through this the audience is able to understand that Chris knew that he had the chance to belong to many places. Even though both Ender’s Game and The Simple Gift had places to belong both Ender at his house and Billy at Nowheres Vile, knew how it felt not to belong to a place. Fitting into a place or being able to belong to a group of people is a significant part of the normal person’s life. Sean Penn was able to direct Into the Wild and is able to portray Chris and his very different understanding of belonging. Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game was able to illustrate the effects of what little belonging can do people. Through these texts and The Simple Gift all three composers were able to demonstrate similar and differently the effects of belonging to people and place.