Belonging is usually defined as being accepted into and by members of a family, group, class, race, community or school. The term belonging means something different to everyone but most people will come up with the words acceptance, security and identity. In this speech I have chosen to talk about the aspects of belonging and not belonging in two of Peter Skrzynecki’s Poems, Migrant Hostel and 10 Mary Street and also in the 1997 film ‘Titanic’.
In Peter Skrzynecki’s Migrant Hostel, he talks about the 2 years of his life that he and most of his family lived in a Migrant hostel in Parkes after coming to Australia after World War 2 from Poland and leaving most of his family and polish heritage behind. This poem gives the responder a sense of confusion about whether he belongs or not to this migrant hostel. Skrzynecki creates this confusion by contrasting the family’s sense of belonging to the hostel with the family’s confusion about whether or not they actually belonged to the Australian soil.
Although the migrant hostel was their home for 2 years there was always so many people coming and going that it didn’t really feel like a home which made it really hard to create a sense of belonging as a community. Techniques used by Skrzynecki to create this sense of confusion about belonging are juxtaposition or contrast for example in the last stanza on the 6th line “Needing its sanction To pass in and out of lives That had only begun Or were dying”
This can be referred to as when people arrive at the hostel their lives are just beginning as they have a second chance to start their lives over again and forget about the past and what has happened and concentrate on the future and then when they leave the hostel they feel lost because they are on unknown land and they feel they don’t really fit in with the Australian lifestyle as they have their own background and heritage to maintain. This uote could also mean the opposite when they leave they have a chance to start over and renew there lives again and when they are in the hostel they are trapped and don’t know what to do or who they are. Symbolism is another technique Skrzynecki uses in this poem. In ‘Migrant hostel’ he uses birds as a symbol of being trapped. For example the third stanza ‘For over two years We lived like birds of passage- Always sensing a change In the weather: Unaware of the season Whose track we would follow’
This example shows how the people in the hostel where hardly allowed outside, which shows that they were basically trapped inside and away from everyone else. Another technique Skrzynecki uses is rhetorical device; this technique shows the confusion of the people inside the hostel, for example in the first stanza 6th line “That left us wondering who would be coming next. ” This example shows the confusion the people had, and how uncertain things were for them, they didn’t know who was going to come through the gate next or who was going to leave.
Also in this poem Skrzynecki uses an extended metaphor. In this poem the bird symbol is also used as the extended metaphor. In this poem he uses refers to a homing pigeon to deepen the sense of instinctual behavior for example in the second stanza 1st line ‘Nationalities sought Each other out instinctively Like a homing pigeon Circling to get its bearings’ this example shows how the people are coming together and finding each other through their background and where they came from. The last technique that Skrzynecki uses in this poem is similes. For example n the last stanza 4th line ‘As it rose and fell like a finger’ this particular simile refers to the gate out the front of the hostel, it shows how they were isolated from the rest of the country by that gate and that they had no control over when that gate opened or closed. It makes the hostel sound like a jail. In Skrzynecki’s poem ‘10 Mary Street’ he is describing his life in his first ever home on Australian soil, this poem has a greater sense of belonging as he is more comfortable in Mary street, and he has a greater sense of belonging to his family, his home, his school, his community and is comfortable with his migrant past.
Skrzynecki and his family lived at 10 Mary Street for 19 years before the house got knocked down. During this poem Skrzynecki has no sense of doubt or uncertainty about who he is or where he is going. This poem gives a strong sense of happiness and content within his life as the language is light and joyful, as he remembers certain things about that house and life within it. Skrzynecki uses techniques such as personification
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