The Need to Belong Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 12 October 2016

The Need to Belong

Belonging as defined by the Oxford dictionary is a multifaceted concept, yet being every individual’s inherent desire to belong. Belonging is a universal concept. Those who don’t find a sense of belonging are certain to find themselves under the destructive cycle of isolation and self-alienation. Peter Skrzynecki’s “Immigrant Chronicles” serves to highlight the basic fundamental desire to belong and the importance it holds on each individual. This notion is further explored with Skrzynecki’s poems “St Patrick’s College”, “Feliks Skrzynecki” and Gabrielle Muccino’s 21st century film “Pursuit of Happyness”.

The notion of belonging being an inherent part of human nature is extensively explored within St Patrick’s College. This poem is noticed to be Skrzynecki’s semi-autobiographical poem of his experiences in school. A tone of lethargy permeates throughout the poem to symbolize the persona’s disorientation and dislocation between himself and the school’s formalities. The persona recalls his schooling years as one of ‘darkness’, this can be contrasted to the school’s motto, Latin for “let your light shine”.

The persona wanted to belong within the school as he wanted to make his mother “proud” as “everything was put into this”. The persona’s inherent desire to belong is explored within the text, but the protagonist felt a limitation to belonging as his inability to “shine” as he couldn’t belong to the school’s formalities, this being his place in the school and himself. This can be contrasted to the persona’s mother as she found a sense of belonging through the school’s religious roots and formalities as she “made a prayer” for her son in school.

This is juxtaposed with the actions of her defiant son as he “stuck pine needles” into the school’s motto. This further creates an ironically stark barrier to belonging. The persona’s mother found her son’s success an inherent nature to want to belong. This is further explored within Skrzynecki’s second poem, “Feliks Skrzynecki”. This poem explores kingship and a sense of an inherent nature in the desire to belong. Feliks Skrzynecki is the persona’s father and is expressed as a barrier to his belonging as he couldn’t connect to their Polish culture.

There is use of possessive pronouns throughout the poem to demonstrate the inheritance of belonging from father and _____, “My father”. Although this shifts overtime from “my” to “his”, the use of the pronoun “his” reveals dislocation and disconnectedness between the persona and his father. The protagonist felt a disconnection with his father, but desired to belong, but couldn’t find that connection and a strong sense of belonging. Inheritance of human nature to belong is explicitly explored within 10 Mary Street.

This poem reveals how pure connection to birth place, locality amongst family extensively initiates belonging and the sense of adhesiveness and connectedness. The persona describes his home and his parents sense of belonging through their “beloved garden”. There’s a symbol of importance of belonging through their garden. “Grew rows of Carneilla and rows of sweet corn”, emphasizing ownership and a pleasant sense of imagery. “Like a bird, eating pumpkins – I promised myself I’d lay off”. The symbolism of a bird resembles a sense of freedom within their placing.

Belonging being an inherent part of human nature is explored within Gabrielle Muccino’s 21st Century film “pursuit of happyness”. This film reveals great meaning and one’s desire to belong. The protagonist, Chris Garner, revealed through the opening scene reveals his desire to belong and the barriers placed on him due to his socioeconomic position. This is revealed through close ups of Garner’s emotion, and a transition of views and perspectives as people around hum are amongst another with delight written on their faces. “Everyone looks so damn happy, why can’t I look like that? This rhetorical question placed within the scene encapsulates Garner’s inherent desire to belong and the challenges placed against due to his financial difficulties and placing amongst society.

This serves to highlight the importance of one’s inherent desire to belong s it is explored through a film. Cinematic techniques coincide to produce a more sympathetic connection with the audience. Use of a musical underscore occur throughout the film as a motif of inspiration and hope to achieve that desire of belonging and “Happyness”. Lord don’t move that mountain” by Mahalia Joshon serves to reveal the desire of one’s sense of belonging, and this thematic technique is applied through scenes of hope for achievement. Alongside of this musical underscore, there is as well a song of stronger meaning by Stevie Wonder “Till I reach my higher ground”. Again being a motif of inspiration and ability for excel to reach his place and “highest ground”. Throughout the film, there’s a recognizable sense of belonging and achievement that becomes evident through strong imagery.

A meaningful image present in the opening film reveals Garner amongst other civilians like himself but an exclusion of placing and belonging. This is achieved through thematic technique, a close up and a sudden order of the majority surrounding him. This shifts towards the ending of the film as Garner receives his dream which guarantees his place in society and fulfil his desire of accomplishment and happiness. Barley holding himself upright, Garner begins to tear in success and “Happyness”.

This being a result, he finds himself once again amongst a foot path amongst others, all similar to before. This time achievement and prosperity is amongst the protagonist. Further exploring how belonging is not only a desire, but a inheritance of human nature to belong. Through Peter Skrzynecki’s “immigrant Chronciles” and Gabrielle Muccino’s 21st century film “Pursuit of Happyness”, one can comprehend the understanding and importance of one’s belonging being an inherent part of human nature, through emotion, through expression and most importantly through one’s self thoughts and consciousness.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 12 October 2016

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