Discuss how techniques are used to convey key ideas. The ideas of fulfilment and acceptance are key aspects of belonging and are revolved around one’s desire to belong to a certain group or organisation and to obtain a sense of self. These ideas are explored through Skrzynecki’s poem “St Patrick’s College”, which is based on the concept of how a sheltered lifestyle can limit one’s sense of belonging.
Through the use of the reflective perspective and literary techniques, the text is able to convey key ideas in relation to acceptance and fulfilment. When attempting to achieve a sense of acceptance, one would generally seek refuge in a place of safety, which in this case was chosen by the persona’s mother. By providing the poet with an expensive education, his mother believed that he would be able to fit in. This idea is challenged by the ironic statue of the secondary school block, which is referred to as “Our Lady”.
In describing the statue, the poet gives two conflicting images of the statue with the lines “With outstretched arms,/ Her face overshadowed by clouds” and “Our Lady still watching,/ Above, unchanged by eight year’s weather. By using ironic imagery, we as readers are forced to question how concrete statues are able to provide warmth and protection.
The juxtaposition of an accepting entity as described by “outstretched arms” and an object that does not move gives the impression that although the school is trying to make the students feel that they belong, the persona still feels isolated as indicated by the line “Like a foreign tourist”.
The ironic implication of the unchanged statue can also be used to represent the poet’s experience as a student at St Patrick’s, indicating the lack of fulfilment in the eight years that he has been there as fulfilment can be intimately linked to the concept of belonging. In the closing lines, “Prayed that Mother would someday be pleased / With what she’d got for her money-“, caesura is used to highlight his genuine prayer for his mother, which further implies that his experience at St Patrick’s was not fulfilling and that his prayer was out of guilt.
Ultimately, it can be said that fulfilment and a sense of acceptance can be obtained if a sense of inclusion and belonging is present. Although the poet concedes that his experience was not completely without worth, he was unable to find a sense of belonging due to social isolation and lack of fulfilment. Through literary techniques and imagery, the poet was able to illustrate a dull and bleak portrait of his schooling years, depicting a lack of fulfilment and acceptance in relation to belonging.