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Exploring Issues of Identity and Belonging Essay

In this Context you will consider many issues related to questions of a sense of self and how we gain the feeling of belonging to a family, group, place or community. You will ask questions like: Who am I? Where do I belong? What things have shaped me into the person I am today? How have they done so? The title of the Context gives equal emphasis to identity and belonging, suggesting that each is related to the other. The groups we choose to belong to and the ways we connect with others help to form our own identity. Together, these issues go to the heart of who we are and how we present ourselves to the world.

What is the Best Form to Write your Response in the Exam or SAC?

Expository, Persuasive or Imaginative Writing?

In Section B of the VCE English exam your instructions are to write a response either in the form of an expository, persuasive or imaginative piece of writing. In your SAC you could be given the same instruction. What is the best form to write your response if studying the Context Exploring Issues of Identity and Belonging?

Write your response in a form you are familiar and comfortable with. Each form presents its opportunities and challenges.

Expository style of writing: Can be in the form of an essay, personal reflection, personal letter or biography. Its features include a formal style, serious tone and a reasoned, considered discussion of the prompt/stimulus material. Its purpose is to explain or inform and to consider different points of view on the prompt/stimulus material. Persuasive style of writing: Can be in the form of an essay, opinion piece, letter to the editor or editorial. Its features include the use of persuasive language techniques, language for presenting and sustaining an argument. Its purpose is to persuade ie. to convince the reader that your point of view is correct. Imaginative style of writing: Can be in the form of a short story, drama ie. scene from a play, monologue or poetry. Its features include poetic or descriptive language, can use informal or colloquial language if appropriate to characters, narrative voice. Its purpose is to entertain, to make the reader think about ideas in a new way, to move the reader emotionally.

Incorporating Context Ideas

In your written pieces, it is very important to show that you understand the Context ideas in general as well as specific ideas about Identity and Belonging that are presented in your selected texts. Think about some of these ideas when creating your own pieces of writing:

Discuss how a character’s decisions reveal a key idea, for example that staying with the group is more important than asserting their individuality in order to develop a clearer sense of identity. This might be balanced by reference to another character in the same (or different) text who does leave the group in search of greater independence to develop their individual identity. Discuss how the narrative’s events and turning points reveal a key idea, for example that a feeling of not belonging to any groups in society underpins a character’s actions, actions that lead to personal crisis. This might be used to show that a sense of belonging is critical to a robust sense of self and identity. Draw on character’s reflections to illustrate a key idea, for example, that a yearning for a greater sense of self is being stifled by the need to conform to society’s pressures.

Create a character that has a similar identity crisis but show how gender can be an added factor at critical times of an individual’s life. Write a short story that has a similar theme, for example, that individuals use masks to disguise the fact that they are not authentic since they have no sense of genuine self. Write short pieces that demonstrate an issue, for example, that choosing not to belong to a group can bring many personal rewards but just as many regrets. You might create your own character who writes a short farewell speech to a group, a letter and a diary entry. Some Suggested Writing using three texts that are being studied in the Context of Identity and Belonging:

Skin, film directed by Anthony Fabian
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Play by Ray Lawler
Growing Up Asian in Australia, Narrative Edited by Alice Pung If the prompt refers to ideas about the strength and power of the family unit in creating a sense of belonging, you could write:

An expository reflection on what it is like to discover that you are an outsider in your own family, referring to the moments in which Sandra is confronted with this realisation in Skin. An imaginative piece in the form of a scene from a play about a group of unrelated people who create their own version of a family, drawing on ideas from Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. A persuasive editorial on the need for local communities to offer migrant families more opportunities to integrate into mainstream Australia, with references to ideas in Growing Up Asian in Australia. If the prompt refers to ideas about the power of the group to exert pressure on the individual, you could write:

An imaginative response in the form of a reflection by the young waitress on the incident in the cafe in Tony Ayres ‘Silence’ in Growing Up Asian in Australia. An expository essay on the ways in which membership of a group can inhibit individual growth and change, with reference to Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. An expository essay that discusses how racist beliefs can be transformed into discriminatory social exchanges and legislation, with reference to Sandra’s experience of growing up during apartheid in South Africa in Skin. If the prompt refers to ideas about developing a strong sense of self as we mature, you could write:

An imaginative dialogue between the ‘blue-eyed Tans’ and the ‘brown-haired Wongs’ when they first meet the Chew children, with references to Joo-Inn Chew’s ‘Chinese Dancing, Bendigo Style’ in Growing Up Asian in Australia. An imaginary story about a good girl who always tries to do the right thing, but the harder she tries, the more her actions are seen as rebellious and disrespectful, until she has no choice b ut to accept that she is bad. Draw on Sandra’s experience in Skin. An expository essay on the ways in which our perception of ourselves change as we grow older, and why some people find it difficult to adjust their self-image as they age, drawing on ideas from Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. If the prompt refers to ideas about isolation and alienation, you could write:

A formal document that makes an official apology to Sandra Laing for the years of emotional trauma inflicted upon her in Skin. An imaginative short story that reveals ways in which disconnection from a group can destabilise a person’s sense of identity, leaving them feeling isolated and insecure, with reference to ideas from Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. An imaginative short story that reflects on the situation of a young person who experiences discrimination at school, with references to ideas and incidents in Growing Up Asian in Australia.

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