Demonstrate how alienation is a key theme in both Migrant Hostel and Feliks Skrzynecki. Textual evidence must be used in your response. Belonging is an extremely complex and intangible concept based upon one’s perception of themselves and the world around them. Through reading and breaking down these two poems, Migrant Hostel and Feliks Skrzynecki by Peter Skrzynecki, it is recognised that they both reveal alienation in their contexts. Alienation is a key theme as both poems emphasis dominate features through using strong textual evidence within these texts.
Literary techniques such as metaphors, similies, hyperbole, descriptive language and imagery are used to describe alienation in Migrant Hostel and Feliks Skrzynecki. When people do not spend a lot of time in one place, they never really feel like they belong. In the first stanza of migrant hostel, hyperbole is used to provide an example of how the immigrants do not belong to the hostel. “Sudden departments…left us wondering who would be coming next”. This is an over exaggeration of interpreting the feelings of the immigrants of alienation, whom struggle to belong as everyone comes and goes and is not a unified community.
As the immigrants choose to be separated due to memories of which they want to forget, resulting in being victims of bureaucracy. The metaphor “Partitioned off at night by memories of hunger and hate”, allows the immigrants to be dehumanized and generate conflict due to the lack of social stability. This is the consequence of being together which acknowledges alienation within the hostel. Similarly in Feliks Skrzynecki, descriptive language is used to reinforce alienation between father and son. “Feliks Skrzynecki, That formal address I never got used to”.
Although, through the shared history, it binds these men together and allows them to cope with alienation in this new and strange world. The constant rejection of society forces migrants to seek connection amongst themselves -“nationalities sought each other out instinctively. ” The word ‘instinctively’ highlights the pressing need for union emphasised through brief disregard of cultural differences. Stanza three also locates the textual theme of metaphor. The metaphor is utilized to describe their desire to leave. Unaware of the season whose track we would follow”. The use of ‘we’ unifies their common existence, regardless of their racial origin. However, this sense of belonging is often only temporary and sometimes results in a greater sense of alienation. In Feliks Skrzynecki, stanza four reveals alienation between the father and society. “Did your father ever attempt to learn English” provides an understanding of the racism and rejection Feliks experienced. Skrzynecki provides the idea that it is a place, which is of degrading nature. A barrier at the main gate” metaphorically utilized, suggests that despite being compared to a pointing finger is depersonalized, with no concern for their predicaments. Their experience has been both negative and positive. “As it rose and fell like a finger pointed in reprimand or shame… Needing its sanction”. Some have blossomed while others have died. This similie captures the patronizing bureaucracy central to their exsistance. Peter Skrzynecki’s poem Feliks Skrzynecki represents alienation as the son moves away from the father’s lifestyle. “Like a dumb prophet, watched me pegging my tents further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall”.
This similie and also visual imagery of ‘tents’ implies transience while the reference to ‘Hadrian’s Wall’ reinforces the idea of separation. The Roman’s built the wall in England to keep out the Picts from the North. This represents a shift in perception towards a family, culture and new home amongst this foreign experience. Belonging is an important virtue to have within a family and society. Feliks Skrzynecki and Migrant Hostel both indicate that the key theme of alienation is present in these poems by Peter Skrzynecki. Textual evidence utilized to describe alienation, has allowed it to be demonstrated effectively.