Belonging in “Bend it like Beckham”
Belonging in “Bend it like Beckham”
The struggle to belong is significant in shaping the familial and cultural relationships of migrants. This idea is evident in two of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems, Feliks Skrzynecski and postcard, as well as the movie bend it like beckham directed by Gurinda Chadha. All of us have had to struggle for something in our lives, however, when minorities such as the ones portrayed in these texts are forced into a struggle due to their ancestry, their ties with their family and culture are greatly influenced.
Struggling to find a sense of belonging with ones family can be overcome by a shared experience. This is evident in Feliks skrzyecki, when Peter, who after migrating to Australia starts to lose his connection with his fathers Polish heritage The poets isolation from his father is shown in the quote “shook hands too violently”, visual imagery is used to show the fact that peter cannot connect with his father or his friends. Later in the third stanza the impersonal pronoun “they” is used to exclude Feliks from his father and in turn the cultural heritage that his father belongs to. However, 2 stanzas later, Peter is able to achieve a sense of belonging with his father after an experience encountering a department store clerk. the who ” asked me in dancing bear grunts “did your father even attempt to learn english?” the clerk is used as a microcosm to represent an unwelcoming society, which both he and his father struggle to fit into. There shared experience helps build the relationship of he and his father. This shows us that when an experience is shared, a connection can made more easily with ones family.
This idea is also prevalent in bend in like beckham. when main character jess, an indian teenager struggles to connect with her family due to their disapproval of her love for soccer. Her isolation from her parents mirrors that of peter. for example as jess prepares to take a free kick she envisions her family on the opposition team, all dressed in traditional sikh clothing, pleading with jess to return to her traditional duties. The directer uses costuming to juxtaposed jess’s football kit with the clothing of her ancestors,this shows the alienation that she suffers from her indian culture, as well as the internal conflict that she suffers when deciding between her heritage and her soccer.
Her disconnection is also evident when a close up shot is used of the mother, as she states “what family would want a daughter in law who can kick a football all day but can’t make round chapatis?”. this is juxtaposed with her daughters perspective in a previous scene when jess says “who wants cook Aloo Gobi when you can bend a ball like beckham. These quotes help give an understanding of the constant struggle that jess faces between her passion of soccer and the heritage that was bestowed upon her.
The text is also similar to feliks skrzynecki due to that fact that she finds a way to connect with her father through the shared experience of being racially vilified, just as peter and his dad did. during a soccer match, jess is abused by an opposition player, being called a “paki” – a racial slur towards someone of sub continental descent. This incident mirrors the struggle that her father went through when he was thrown out of his cricket club due to his decent. He described his treatment using simile as “like a dog” to show the alienation he felt. The shared experience of being racially vilified helped connect the father and daughter, much like in Feliks skrzynevski.
The struggle to belong can also lead to an acceptance of ones ancestry. This is shown in Postcard, a poem that discusses Peter skryznecki’s internal struggle when receiving a postcard from his parents old city of warsaw. The postcard elicits emotions of alienation due to the fact that it is something his parents can connect to, but he himself is disconnected from it, having never been there. high modality is used when the quote ” i never knew you” is repeated throughout the second phase of the poem. impersonal pronouns such as “my father” and “my mother” are used to alienate him from the town.
It is this internal struggle of being disconnected with his ancestry that leads him to the realisation in the last stanza of the poem that he must eventually connect with the town that he has such strong heritage with. Personification and high modality is used in the quote “a lone tree whispers “we will meet before you die.”” The lone tree is a metaphor for his subconscious, which means that he has come to the conclusion that he must eventually confront his ancestry and find a sense of belonging with it. this realisation could not of been possible without the internal struggle and alienation that he felt from his cultural heritage.
This contrast with both Feliks Skrzynecki and Bend it like beckham. in Feliks skrzynecki he Peter does not come to the conclusion that he will reconnect with his ancestors, instead he drifts away from them, as shown in the final stanza. “watched me pegging my tents/further south of Hadrians wall”. The metaphor of hadriens wall is used to represent his migrant culture, and the fact that he will continue to drift away from it, rather than try and connect with it, like in Postcard. Bend it like beckham again differs from these texts as it is jess’s family that eventually accepts her. it is evident in the quote “I taught her a full indian dinner, the rest is up to god.” that her mother has accepted her daughter, and jess’ struggle to belong to her family is over.
In conclusion struggling to belong will ultimately be the catalyst for a stronger or weaker connection with your family and heritage, whether that change is positive or negative is dependent on the environment that one is surrounded in. Both Postcard and Feliks skrzynecki by Peter skrzynecki and bend it like beckham directed by Gurinda Chadha effectively display this.