Belonging refers to a sense of feeling accepted or welcome either physically or spiritually to a group or club. “A feeling of belonging depends on a strong relationship, developed over a period of time”. This statement suggests that a strong relationship is created or evolved over a period of time, it is evident in todays society through terms such as “childhood friends”. The sentiment “A feeling of belonging depends on a strong relationship, developed over a period of time” is portrayed in my text “Romulus my Father” by Raimond Gaita and my related text the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” directed by Frank Darabont.
In “Shawshank Redemption” the year is 1947 and Andy Dufresne is ordered to serve two life sentences in Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. Inside, Andy is subjected to violent attacks from brutal guards and fellow inmates. Slowly, he begins to make friends ,one of the most most important friendship is the one he forms with ‘Red’, who has also been convicted of murder and is Shawshank’s resident black-market dealer.
During his time in prison, Andy’s previous experience as a banker earns him favour with the guards and especially the warden ,as he begins to manage their financial affairs, soon moving on to laundering money for them. In return, Andy is permitted special privileges , which includes working in the warden’s office and being able to establisha prison library for the inmates. Eventually Andy’s innocence is proven. However, by this time, Andy is nowhere to be found and the warden and Shawshank are left sinking in a sea of scandal.
Through his time in imprisonment he creates many friendships and alliances with the guards and the inmates, however he never gives up his belief in himself and he never looses his sense of belonging to the outside world like many of the inmates. He refuses to become institutionalized. He always believed in his innocence and believed he belonged on the “outside”. Like Raimond in Romulus my father Andy Dufresne both characters do not conform to their surroundings. Raimonds surroundings being mental illness and Andy’s being institutionalization.
This is due to a strong sense in their own personal belonging they know where they belong and how they belong and their surroundings will not effect nor change this. The two main characters also find or in Andy’s case creates an area where they feel safe and secure . For Andy this was his library . A place where he feels at home away from the violence of the prison. A place where he can be who he use to be, a place to belong away from the harshness of prison life .
A glimmer of his past . Raimond also has a place where he feels safe and that was anywhere his dog was . His dog provides feeling of safety of being needed by another living being . Of felling a sense of belonging and acceptance that no human could replicate. Time serves as both a source of torment as well as the backdrop for the slow, eventual achievement of Andy’s escape to where he feels he belongs, his seemingly impossible goal for nearly twenty-eight years.
Shawshank redefines the passage of time for the inmates, especially for the “lifers” like Andy and Red, who can only look forward to death. Hours can seem like a lifetime, and every day seems indistinguishable from the next, adding to the loneliness and burden of imprisonment. Ironically, however, time also proves to be the means of Andy’s escape and salvation and gives him hope throughout his quarter-century in Shawshank.
It is ironic that the inmates feel as they don’t belong in jail, there is a scene in the movies where one of the inmates Brooks is release from prison after spending a life sentence who is released and feels that he doesn’t belong this is evident thought the quote “I cant believe how fast thing move on the out side” her refers to the world as the “outside” this projects a sense of not belonging to society. Brooks then goes on to say “ maybe I should get me a gun, n rob the food way so they’d send me home” . He feels more sense of belonging inside a prison than he does out in the real world.
He feels outcast not through his actions but through the passage of time “the world went and got themselves into a big dam hurry” . The passage of time in Shawshank redemption has created a strong relationship between the inmates and the prison a feeling of belonging, time has changed the world they once knew to a totally different world that is alien to them, thus institutionalizing them to a world they feel comfortable. ‘Romulus, My Father‘ composed by Raimond Gaita is an autobiographical memoir of his fathers life.
It explores the Assimilation to Australian Culture in the Eyes on Raimond Gaita general hardships of migrants moving from Europe, and how he comes to belong to Australia. In “Romulus My Father” the most profound sense of belonging exists with the narrator himself. The narrator delivers his observations in a reflective and thoughtful tone. The high modality of verb choice suggests a pleasant nostalgia about events in the book. Particularly his recollections of his father, notions such as, “I loved him too deeply… no quarrel could estrange us” displays the sense of belonging \ he feels with his father.
This is evident even after Christina dies. He observed, “We came together as son and husband with the woman whose remains lay beneath us”. Raimond’s aspect of belonging is that of family and culture. Juxtaposed against Raimond’s belonging is the suffering of Christina in her displacement. For the mother her inability to belong is described by Raimond as, “a troubled city girl, she could not settle…. in a landscape that highlighted her isolation”. Raimond’s melancholy tone conveys how Christine could not fit into the community and in Australia.
As a result her isolation and alienation lead her to betray the institution of family juxtaposed by “I felt awkward with her,” which shows his relationship with his mother has lost the familial belonging it once contained. The landscape plays a harsh role in ‘Romulus, My Father’, as ‘the landscape is one of rare beauty, to a European or English eye it seems desolate’ page 14. Relating to culture shock also, Romulus ‘could not become reconciled to it’ as ‘the eucalypts of Baringhup, scraggy except for the noble red gums on the riverbank, seemed symbols of deprivation and barrenness. page 14.
This lack of belonging even in the landscape of Australia for Romulus creates the notion that he felt connected to his native lands in Europe, and without that connection he feels as though he does not belong. However, this can also be viewed that Romulus does not understand the land and therefore cannot appreciate its unique beauty, highlighted where ‘he set fire to the stock in order to kill the snake…an immigrant unused to the tinder-dry conditions of an Australian summer’ page 28.
Romulus was then harshly unaccepted as ‘The local newspaper ridiculed the New Australian for his folly. ’ He partially redeemed himself in the eyes of locals where he saved Neil Mikkelsen from dying after he fell from a ladder. This can be contrasted to Raimond’s perception of the Australian landscape, one who had grown up with the land, ‘the key to the beauty of the native trees lay in the light which so sharply delineated them against a dark blue sky…the sight provoked a surge of affection for my primitive home. pg 62. Belonging shapes who we are. “Romulus My Father” by Raimond Gaita explores how “A feeling of belonging depends on a strong relationship, developed over a period of time”. “The Shawshank redemption” directed by Frank Darabont explores the need for belonging by gamers seeking a place in society and how time can disconnect one from somewhere they one belonged. Together these texts allow us to examine both positive and negative aspects time has on belonging.
Courtney from Study Moose
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