Perceptions on Belonging Essay
“We belong … like fish in water. We’re in our environment. ” This quote from the New York Times shows the perception of belonging as the idea about connecting to a place, person, group or a community. ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ by Peter Skrzynecki, ‘I’m nobody! Who are you? ‘ by Emily Dickinson and ‘The Rabbits’ by John Marsden & Shaun Tan show the concept of belonging as being contrasted towards the New York Times quote, showing the alienation and non-existent connection towards it. These texts have furthered my understanding on the perceptions of belonging by recognising the different concepts of connection to people, places and things.
The text “Feliks Skrzynecki” by Peter Skrzynecki shows the connection towards relationships (Himself and Peter) and the struggle of adapting to the new Australian culture from his own old Polish Heritage. The poem underlines the perception of belonging as alienation and a connection between family and culture. He reflects this in his poem by using “Happy as I have never been” which also shows Skrzynecki regretting that he cannot share his fathers contentment towards the world he has created for himself. The first stanza depicts Feliks Skrzynecki as a strong, hard-working, gentle and his own person, not driven by other peoples expectations.
Skrzynecki uses a variety of poetic techniques to convey this. In the third stanza, Feliks Skrzynecki has some polish friends around. It shows the alienation between Peter Skrzynecki and his father by showing the traditional things that his father and his friends still use. “I thought… Feliks Skrzynecki/I never got used to. ” In the last stanza, it shows the ever growing alienation towards Skrzynecki’s father and his polish background. The Simile “After that, like a dumb prophet” and the Metaphor “Watched me pegging my tents” shows the distance, alienation and separation towards his heritage and his father.
These techniques help show the non-existent connection between the poet and his father, and the ever growing barrier between the two. The perception of belonging in “I’m nobody! Who are you? ” by Emily Dickinson shows the connection towards the society, the people and herself. In the poem, the poet portrays herself as a “Nobody” and playfully asks the responder “Who are you? ”. Dickinson follows up by adding “Are you nobody too? /Then there is a pair of us! ” this helps Dickinson unite with the responder adding the sense of belonging to one another. In the last stanza, the poet shows how oppressive the “somebodies” crowd can be “Don’t tell! They’d advertise – you know? ” This also shows the connection that Dickinson has with being a nobody, and the ability to stand out from the crowd. “How dreary to be somebody! ” shows how the poet loves to be a nobody, and feels like she belongs. Dickinson frequently uses rhythmic dashes to interrupt the flow, and engage the responder to pause to think and feel about the line. The poet also uses juxtaposition in the line “How public—like a Frog—” These combining elements are not typically considered together, and, thus, more powerfully conveying its meaning.
The poem shows that Dickinson is quite content with not connecting with the “somebodies” and that the poet enjoys being an outsider to the rest of the world and feels like she belongs to her own little place. In the picture book, ‘The rabbits’ by John Marsden & Shaun Tan it shows the perspective of belonging as connecting to the indigenous Aboriginal land, people and culture. The allegory of the rabbits being the British and the Numbats being the Aboriginal people, we see a clash between the two. The perspective of the book is from the Numbats point of view which shows the belonging and non belonging aspect of the book.
The paintings in the book are that of surreal, showing the aspect of belonging through tone, colour, vectors and conceptual objects. The second double spread shows the vast landscape of Australia and the Numbats and the rabbits. The visual effect of the numbats expression shows that the rabbits don’t belong in this natural land, but are intruding it in a self mannered way. We see that the concept of connecting to the land and people are very much vivid in the painting. “They didn’t live in trees, like we did” entitles bewilderment, the numbats didn’t understand or comprehend what was going on.
The sentence also shows the belonging side of the Aboriginals, where the tribe all sticks together as they belong to one another. The rest of the book it shows the colour and tone subsiding into dark, unwelcoming colours which symbolise the rabbits and also shows the concept of belonging slowly subsiding to alienation and the feeling of not connecting. ‘The Rabbits’ shows different aspects of the perception of belonging by illustrating the idea of alienation, connection between people and the land, and the feeling of belonging to a family and a community.
All three texts have the same perception on belonging; the connection towards a place. In ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ we see the connection in the third stanza “They reminisced/about farms where paddocks flowered/with corn and wheat” and the first stanza “Loved his garden like an only child” which shows the belonging idea between his Polish heritage, Poland and his garden which he loves dearly. In “I’m nobody! Who are you? ” the idea about belonging to the poets self, and not to the rest of the world is seen in the last stanza “How dreary to be somebody! How public-like a frog. ” “The Rabbit” by John Marsden & Shaun Tan has the aspect of firstly, belonging to the place; Australia, then the feeling of alienation and mistreatment towards the numbats through the paintings in the book. In conclusion, the three texts, “Feliks Skrzynecki” by Peter Skrzynecki, “I’m nobody! Who are you? ” by Emily Dickinson and “The Rabbits” by John Marsden & Shaun Tan have furthered my understanding of different perceptions of belonging by each showing belonging to a place, person or community.