Belonging Essay (Area of Study)
“No man is an island.???
This quote from John Donne, means that human beings do not thrive when isolated from others.
???It is essential for the health of all human beings in society to experience a sense of belonging???.
Belonging is the human need to be an accepted member of a group. The group can be family, friends, co-workers or a sports team, anything that fulfils the inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves.
To belong is the need for relationships with other people, not just an acquaintance or a familiarity, but the need to give and receive affection from people in our lives.
The following texts;
The Simple Gift, a novel by Steven Herrick
Spiritual Song of the Aborigine, a poem by Hyllus Maris
Another Day in Paradise, a song by Phil Collins,
Reflect on the idea of belonging/ and not belonging and how it affects the well being of persons in society.
In the novel, The Simple Gift, Billy feels alienated from the town in which he lives, and he is depressed by it. Herrick uses emotive and colloquial language to convey the sense of not belonging. The use of these negative adjectives such as “no-hoper” and lonely are listed one after the other in the verse, to convey how negatively Billy views the town and highlights his sense of separation. Billy wants to belong somewhere else and he has no choice but to go away. ???I say goodbye to all that, throwing rocks down Longlands road”.
Billy is sad to be leaving his house, his street and his school, this is the only sense of belonging he knows. Most of all he is sad to be leaving Westfield Creek, because this is where he spent most of his time. This was the place where he learnt the most, his favourite classroom???. This is the beautiful place where he found his escape from the reality of his home; this is where he fitted in, the place where he belonged.
Not belonging is emphasised in the song, ???Another Day in Paradise??? by Phil Collins the woman is homeless, she doesn??™t fit in and people ignore her. She is desperate, and this motivates her to call out to strangers and ask for help. The repetition of the line ???she calls out to the man on the street” reflects that desperation and how she is craving some kind of connection. The direct speech of the woman ???Oh lord, is there nothing more anybody can do, Oh Lord, there must be something you can say??? is a prayer for help, she is begging to be noticed, begging for somebody to help her, somebody to recognise her and provide her with a sense of belonging.
In these two texts we see both the woman and Billy being separated from society, neither of them fit in or belong. In the song, the man ignores the woman,
???He walks on, doesn??™t look back, He pretends he can??™t hear her”.
Billy is also rejected by the kids of the town, they call him names. “As I near town there??™s more cars and school buses, yellow, full of kids shouting insults at me, the bum.??? The sense of alienation is conveyed by use of colloquial and descriptive language through both texts and a feeling of sympathy is passed to the reader.
Billy arrives and decides to stay in Bendarat, because he sees the town as being like him. ???I realise Bendarat is not the only desperate one???.
Billy finds belonging in terms of identity and place in Bendarat. He is
Bendarat freight Yard
No License / No certificate.
He is homeless and proud of it.”
The short sentence structure technique is used to portray belonging.
Billy is beginning to change his attitudes, he recognises Ernie, the train driver, as being kind and generous not like his father, and he no longer distrusts the librarian simply because she has authority, he has a relationship with Caitlin, someone not of his world, by earning money he has hope and possibilities and in Old Bill, Billy has someone who takes notice of him and someone to care for.
He is becoming emotionally attached and these connections are giving him a sense of well being and confidence.
In the poem, Spiritual Song of the Aborigine, belonging is also seen in terms of identity, culture and place.
The word Aborigine in the title of the poem relays a sense of belonging as the aboriginal spirituality is strongly linked to the land…
The poem has a varied rhyme scheme and the effect allows it to be read like a song. The dreamtime people belonged to the land and were part of the land.
The use of first person speech ???I am a child of the dreamtime People” conveys a strong personal sense of belonging and assert strongly the poets identity.
Similes compare two things that are part of the one, “part of this land, like the gnarled gumtree???, the personification of the river ???softly singing??? and the alliteration of the “S” sound gives a feeling of peace. The poem delivers a sense of belonging and identity. In the Simple Gift this is how Billy felt when he was at Westfield Creek.
The friendships between Billy, Caitlin and Old Bill grow and become stronger. They are able to help each other and begin to influence change in each others lives. Caitlin??™s relationship with Billy has helped her to find her place of belonging outside of her rich family and posh school. Billy has been a good influence on Old Bill, in him he has found hope and has dealt with the ghosts of his past and begun to make positive changes in his life. Old Bill lets Billy stay in his family home ???I hugged old Bill Like I??™ve never hugged a man before sure that he??™d saved my life???.
Billy is expressing his relief and gratitude by hugging Old Bill. The birds in the verse symbolise Billy??™s new hope and freedom. Now Billy has become one of the fortunate people. He has found his place to belong.
The message in, the song ???another Day in Paradise??™, is for the fortunate people in life who fit into normal society, to ???think twice??? ???You can see that she??™s been there
Probably been moved on from every place, Cos she didn??™t fit in there.”
To make more of an effort to reach out and be more helpful in making people feel part of the community, just as Old Bill did for Billy.
The effects of not belonging on people was recently acknowledged by the Australian Prime Minister when he apologised to the ???lost Generation???, the “Forgotten Australians” and former “child immigrants.??? It is essential for the health of all human beings in society to experience a sense of belonging.
Billy, Caitlin and Old Bill belonged to each other and ???like plants, they grew in the soil of acceptance, rather than perish in the atmosphere of rejection”. They found themselves and their place, in Bendarat, under the blue sky where everyone has a place.