According to William Glasser We are driven by five basic needs: survival, power, freedom, fun, love and belonging. Many of us have been desperate and hungry to find a means of belonging within mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and My Space, yet we do not know with WHOM we should or should not seek connection. Our greatest sense of belonging is found in the relationships we choose. These can be found in friendships in school, sports clubs, church association and even in the pursuits of romance; and each holds elements that contribute to how we understand and interpret belonging in our daily lives.
For instance the relationship we have all experienced, whether we are young or old friendship. A friend is the first person you want to call when you hear good news. A friend remembers that you don’t like pickles on your sandwich. A friend will accompany you on the most boring of errands and make them seem fun. Such relationships become a necessity to each of us in order to feel like we belong.
Belonging to others through the relationships we choose provides us with the strength to stagger through life, whether those ‘relationships’ are from friends or communities we tend to reach out to find our true sense of belonging, I mean friendships strengthen us. Through many generations we have seen the power of relationships, even those in unlikely places can create a strong bond. Many view friendship as the compelling tie that binds us to others, giving us a sense of structure, offering comfort in the most trying situations.
It is this common connection that highlights the value of friendship in our sense of belonging; for what is worse, My Dear Friends, than not having anybody by our side to lean on, in our time of need? – That shoulder that’s always there to catch your head as it falls, driven down by the hardships of life. We can see such emotions through Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s superb novel “Heat and Dust” and John Lee Hancock’s passionate film “Blind Side”, both of which illustrate how relationships come in different shapes and sizes and how they shape our sense of belonging.
Some friendships are found in unlikely places, and it does not always have to seem that it was meant to be; we all have encountered a friendship that started out as shallow and weak but as time passes it develops. The modern narrator of ‘Heat and Dust’ reflects that “It used to embarrass Inder Lal to find me waiting for him… [I] suppose we do make a strange couple”. Whilst be- friending Indian people did seem unusual, this is an example of how relationships can be found in the most implausible places, and not exactly appear as a perfect relationship at first.
The friendship is bound together and starts to develop as the Narrator expresses “he has got used to me and is even… proud to be seen … with his English friend. ” It seems unusual to have a relationship of friendship between a landlord and the tenant, Inder Lal has acknowledged their relationship, and seems very dignified about it, he first saw it as an opportunity to practice his English, but later enjoys their companionship. In him, acknowledging their friendship she feels a sense of acceptance as their friendship becomes a habit, something worth getting used to.
Rome was not built in a day, likewise relationships takes time to build in order for them to become part of a strong foundation for belonging. Friendships to many are a watchtower, a place to run to, and seek refuge. The narrator felt “relief to have someone to confide in”, confide means to ‘impart secrets trustfully’, secrets hold a heavy burden, in having that person to confide in is like taking a load off your shoulder, running to Inder Lal lightens her and therefore appears to be a place of refuge.
Similarly the sense of belonging is also a place we feel comfortable and often call home. If she had not chosen to be-friend Inder Lal, the joy and pleasure would not have been experienced which allowed her to taste what belonging is. Having companionship with another gives a sense of security, and assurance, the belief that there is always that one person you can reveal all you secrets to and not having to worry about hiding who you are, because that is what it truly means to BELONG.
The narrator feels and see that “he…likes [her] company”, and that he “enjoys [their] conversations”, as she does too, the use of positive language here defines how one should comprehend belonging, and that it is a choice that they have both decided upon. Once you have that bond or connection with that one person you tend to sense and believe in that they are whom you can trust. Inder Lal seems to feel comfortable and strongly connected to the narrator, he even tells her “all sorts of personal things: about his life and his feelings”.
Inder has made the narrator feel a sense of belonging through her journey to a new environment; he enabled her to even conclude “I have never known such a sense of communion… the whole town around me… I am a part of”, she admits that she is now part of this society that she belongs, the friendship shared between them both has allowed her to widen out, friendship helped to experience new experiences nd feel connected. Like the new kid in school, he/she may find one friend but sooner or later the one friend becomes many, as they both expand and widen out. The power of friendship can make people feel as if they are worth more, can bring a connection with the community and the culture. Our narrator describes how different her view with India from her lonely room, “with only walls to look at and books to read”.
Choosing to belong to others provide us with strong friendships, that help us feel connected and accepted, Jhabvala has made me understand that belonging in this world, takes time and effort from both parties it’s not just played by one person, but to belong it helps expand on our territory, and that friendships assist us on journeys that may seem hectic but then become an experience to remember, this is the importance of friendship to belonging. None of us have the power to choose our family, right?
But we do have a choice in those with whom we form friendships. You know, like how we do on Facebook- its either ‘Accept Request’ or simply clicking on ‘NOT NOW’. After 2 months of moving to Satipur the narrator became friends with Inder Lal’s mother. In her first few nights “a strange sound…a high -pitched wail pierced through the night. It didn’t seem like a human sound. But it was. ” Shocked by Inder’s wife Ritu’s, mental illness as she “helped her [Inder’s mother] get Ritu into the house”, the narrator describes them as having “drawn closer together”.
She reinforces this tentative beginning with the sentence “We have become friends”. The notion that friendship is a choice is supported by her use of inclusive pronoun ‘we’, highlighting a mutual sense of belonging. The protagonist continues to explain the nature of their relationship through a series of positive images: “accompanies me to the bazaar [(shopping) common way for females to bond I believe no matter what era you are in,] “bullies the shopkeepers… best vegetables”, and “she tells me about herself”.
The companion ship between the- women opens both to lines of communication, leading one step closer to understanding each other and developing a close relationship resulting in belonging. These positive expressions are further expanded as the older women outlines her view of life and marriage. The narrator spends her entire journal entry for March 20th describing this proud, valuable woman. She reveals how she is proud of Inder and it is she, not Ritu who does everything for him. The- *narrator is later introduced to the mothers friends who “gossip, joke and giggle”.
The time spent on the use of humorous description tantalizes us with an understanding the depth of affection between the two women. The joy in the language and the stories told of their outings where “I did a lot of smiling”, illustrates to the reader the choice each has made to be connected. Inder Lal’s mother enables the narrator’s sense of belonging, by giving access to a community which had held itself apart from her initially. This friendship allows and supports the narrator to become part of the world into which she has moved to.
Jhabvala has expanded the view of Belonging its not simply an emotion or a desire to just fit in and be welcomed but rather a force a tool to strengthen themselves and relationships. Not all of us come from a perfect family like the Brady Bunch. We all have our own fair share of misadventure; it’s either mum’s not in the picture, or dad, or sometimes both. Perhaps one may not have a place to call home or even a “bed”. As Michael is welcomed to Leigh Anne Touhy’s family he has been given a place stay for the night.
Thanks giving, is a tradition practiced by many as a family, it’s known as a gathering that brings all members together and to give thanks for the many blessings they have received throughout the year. Leigh Anne invites Mike to take part in their family tradition, I believe belonging is shown in this scene as they are all gathered around the table ready to give thanks together through prayer, Hancock utilizes the mid shot angle to allow us to examine and scan the families acceptance of Mike, the use of calm instrumental in the background and not to forget the holding of hands with a stranger whilst praying.
In our society the holding of hands is mostly a greeting or a custom towards a person with a relation or a connection with but as Collins takes the first step of offering the gesture to Mike – a coloured boy, breaks the ice of isolation and separation, in doing so they have accepted Mike into the family resulting in BELONGING. Furthermore belonging is highlighted as Leigh Anne gives grace to God; she thanks “for the life given to [them] today” and “thank you for bringing us a new friend”. Leigh Anne recognizes and acknowledges Michael as a friend; she has accepted him into their family.
Belonging here was a choice; she chose to bring Michael into the family she chose to let him in to their home, SHE CHOSE TO BE-FRIEND HIM. Michaels existence to this household has been appreciated and made known, relationships- friendships have a strong influence on belonging it allows them to overcome cases of isolation and loneliness, Michael does not have a clear connection with his mother as he was separated from her at a young age, to be able sit on a table with a ‘White Family’ reveal what belonging is.
It does not matter if you are black, pink or yellow belonging to people through friendship can overcome such vast stereotypes and therefore create such strong ties of friendships. The relationship between Leigh Anne and Michael is not as common in today’s society, but they have set footsteps for many of us today to comprehend what it is to feel belonged, at his first match she feels proud to say “You see Number 74, yeah THAT’S MY SON”, the use of personal pronouns here identifies her true acceptance of Mike and that she feels she takes full responsibility of him, with confidence.
Belonging here not only has a positive impact on Mike but for Leigh Anne especially “he’s changing [my life]”, in accepting Mike, it has allowed her to evaluate and understand herself better, relationships can make one feel the true sense of belonging and to overlook the hardships in one’s life and to accept them for who they are. The first door of relationship to open towards you and the other person- besides your family is Friendship, right? But we might not all like the idea of that person at first, correct? Its either oh I’m way to cool for him or she’s not my type or even because they don’t wear branded clothes.
We all had that one friend whom we forced ourselves to like but later on we find out they aren’t too bad. The choices we make do not only benefit ourselves, but especially to those around us, for instance the library scene, Collins and her friends are studying together as A group, they overlook mike as he walks in and sits alone, the use of soft melodic instrumentals, and the close up shot towards her face, reveals the determination of her willingly deciding to sit together with Mike, leaving her friends behind as they try to repress her from going.
This scene emphasises that we have a choice to make a difference, friendship is something we shouldn’t be inclined to do but rather a choice we are willing to make, that is why we see here, the value of belonging and how it changes one view on the other person, we see how she has accepted the fact that he is a member of their family, her soft smile closing in shows how she is proud of her decision but also the joy of being there with him, especially when she confidently argues that she doesn’t “need [them to] approve [her] choices.
Michael has been investigates by the NCAA about his odd predicament with being welcomed in a rich family and how “they clothed, schooled,” him, to get a scholarship in Ole Miss. The scene is tense and heart breaking, that in a way they were able to break him down and question the families love for him, the mid-shot of his waist upwards reveal his confusion and disagreement to what being presented before him. They following day he was then questioned “why do you want to go to Ole Miss? ” he replied “Because that’s where MY family goes to school”.
He concludes and acknowledges that this is his family this is where HE belonged, this was his home his rock, his fall back I presume. He feels connected and accepted, belonging and relationships overcome trials and presumptions, especially in times of hardships. Relationships and belonging come together under the word UNITY, friendships bring out the confidence in you, the assurance that you are part of something or connected with someone, it clears understandings and misfortunes and brings out the good in life, and this is belonging.
What is belonging? What does it truly mean? Is it as simple as fitting in and being part of a gang or club, or having a name tag that reveals that you have ownership by someone? Belonging is one of the 5 basic needs for humans, in today’s world. The relationships we choose mold our sense of belonging. Jhabvala superb novel “Heat and Dust” and John Lee Hancock’s passionate film “Blind Side”, both of which illustrate how relationships come in different shapes and sizes and how they shape our sense of belonging.
They have made you and I, understand that belonging is more than just being with people that like us, they have taught us that relationships/ friendships can expand our sense of belonging, help us widen out and feel communion in society or even a place we have not been in before. To understand that in this world- Belonging it’s not simply an emotion or a desire to just fit in and be welcomed but rather a force a tool to strengthen ourselves and relationships.
Belonging is a place some may call home and feels sense of security and assurance that there is that person you can fall back on and confide with, and be proud that they have accepted you for who you are. Relationships gives you a sense of belonging and the clear sight to overlook ones status and remove the judgmental view point of a certain persona, but rather open our eyes and see that we need them just as they need us. These two factors if in synced it can create a journey that is memorable, and fruitful at the end. Friends belonging… is shaped by the relationships we choose let us choose wisely for today, tomorrow and the future.
Courtney from Study Moose
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