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Belonging is one of the most basic building blocks of human evolution. That is human evolution has not been determined by genetics of physiology but by out intrinsic ability to build and main in geographical communities. In analysing 'Romulus My Father' Gaita's eulogy examines his father's alienation from the nostalgia he experiences due to his lack of harmony and assimilation within his new environment. He longs for an environment similar to his home which is suggested by Raimond through juxtaposition that the Australian, '...... landscape is of rare beauty, to a European eye' and 'it seems desolate, and even after more than forty years' Romulus 'could not become reconciled to it.' Here the juxtaposition serves to highlight the lack of a sense of belonging to the environment. Furthermore, Romulus ' longed for European society' an feels like ' a prisoner in Australia'. Romulus' displacement is understood in terms of his earlier migration from his homeland to Germany. Significantly, Romulus' sense of belonging had already been shaped and framed by these previous experiences which are in complete conflict within his new environment. However, in addition to the individual not being able to choose his preferred location it is these, objective realities that conspire against him and inhibit his ability to adapt and create a sense of belonging. Romulus' outer appearance creates obstacles for him because he is 'A little embarrassed about his dark complexion' and calls ' himself a gipsy' Later, in Australia his sense of alienation is further punctuated by aligning himself with himself with another alienated race; Australian Indigenuous people. Further, supporting the idea that belonging or lack thereof can be created through our own subjective interpretations of events and experiences.
Similarly, In Bruce Dawe's poem the repercussion of migration, and how a sense of belonging can only be felt if chosen by the individual and if attempted to be forced upon it can create alienation within the individual is explored. The narrator's alienation is exacerbated due to the narrator not able to find a mental and personal link to the surrounding environment. This is highlighted by the aural imagery in the opening lines as the narrator suggests, 'Kettle's plainsong rises to a shriek'. He uses personification to symbolise the dramatic nature and mood of the poem from the onset. While the 'kettle' is only a mundane household appliance, the image creates a sense of terror at the 'shreiking' noise it makes. This can also be seen in the first stanza through the dramatic simile, 'like the horizon closing in,' which captivates the extent of the narrator's frustration and alienation she is confronted with. This emphasises the extent of the agony experienced through the transition of perspectives from a 3rd person view to 1st person of the narrator. The shift to direct speech gives the poem a realistic and personal effect. The monotonous tone of the stanza is suggested in, 'They nearly drove me up the wall! I could have screamed and then the phone….. There's no one round here I can call. If something should go wrong. I'm so alone.' These truncated declarative sentences highlights the poet's alienation due to the lack of connection with environment. Therefore, belonging to a physical environment could be considered in terms of evolutionary. For Dawe the medium is substantially the message of his poems. That is, his use of a variety of poetic techniques is crucial to his communicate of the concept of belonging and the consequences suffered of not belonging as a repercussion of to belong pressuring the individual rather than being a chosen by the individual as experienced by many in the process of migration.
Belonging refers to an emotional, spiritual and physical link between us and the geographical location we are part of. In 'Romulas my Father' Christia cannot find a link to the environment and chooses not to belong to the environment. However, she reacts differently to Romulas, 'A trouble city girl from central Europe, she could not settle to a dilapidated farmhouse in a landscape that highlighted her isolation. She longed for company.' The truncated sentences bring a sense of realism into her alienation from the environment and gives an immediate perspective of the loneliness felt by Christina. However in contrast to Raimond as a first generation Australian, the environment, creates a sense of beauty, awe and kinship in the landscape in contrast to his parents. The landscape holds a 'special beauty' for him and was disguised until he was ready for it. He feels privileged as though 'God had taken me to the back of his workshop and shown me something special.' The religious allusions highlights the extent of the beauty felt by Raimond whereby through the sublime epiphany the extent of his belonging is captured. Hence the human evolution has not been determined by genetics of physiology but by out intrinsic ability of need to build and main communities. And if this need is not fulfilled we may suffer.
Similarly, in Shaun Tan's the 'Lost Thing,' a red giant teapot is also not able to find this sense of belonging due to its physical appearance not being cohesive with the homogenous environment. And rather than belonging being forced upon he doesn't have the option to belong due to his physical appearance. The 'Lost Thing' is created idiosyncratic due to the development of its size and its colour as it is visually apparent yet it still goes by inconspicuous. But despite this, the 'Lost Thing' is not able to belong to its physical location. This is further depicted through the low angle shot and the focal point to make the 'Lost Thing' out of place. Tan also juxtaposes between the foreground and background to show the bounds of the Lost Thing to its communities further highlighting its alienation. , 'The Lost Thing' can be seen as a modern day parable for the flaws in globalisation.
However Shaun Tan influenced by surrealist artist of his time, constructs a satirical look of a busy city environment. This has been achieved through the abstract film strips. Whereby there is an accumulation of people in different modes of transportation. Furthermore Tan has been able to use a different mode of medium of production to Dawe and Gaita whereby the picture book has used vintage colours to outline the dull conformed society of this magical world in comparison to the rich colourful nature of the 'Lost Thing.' This suggests how a communal sense of belonging may in fact stifle or contradict the basis of individual belonging to a physical location.
In conclusion as suggested 'Romulus My Father' by Raimond Gaita, 'Up the wall' by Bruce Dawe and Shaun Tans picture book, 'The Lost Thing' nature of belonging suggests that we are individually responsible for creating meaning and purpose yet we also have the need to belong. In essence, to belong is an innate human need which, if not fulfilled we may suffer whether it is simply belonging to the environment.