Belonging Essay

Belonging Essay – Main Points Intro The intrinsic nature of mankind can arguably be described as one’s wish to develop a sense of connection to one another, and this desire to make connections can be described as the wish to belong. Belonging describes the state when one finally reaches an affinity, whether it is physical, emotional or otherwise, with an entity, which may be a community, place or ideal. The importance of the desire to belong can be seen in the texts, Romulus My Father by Raimond Gaita, Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin and Fiddler On The Roof by Norman Jewison, all which explore potential barriers to affinity.

These barriers can be described as the inability to make connections due to a different cultural background, physical isolation and conflict caused by differing ideals, which frustrate one’s ability to make connections. Paragraph 1 Mankind’s desire to create connections can be described as the most powerful motivating factor in day-to-day life, and this primarily occurs through development of relationship with other people. A common cultural background can lead to the development of relationships based on mutual interests. However, the opposite is also true; it is difficult to build relationships when there is no common ground.

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Romulus My Father – Raimond asserts that “immigrants were tolerated, but seldom given respect accordingly due. ” Careful word choice, namely that of the word ‘tolerated’ demonstrates to us that due to differing cultures, the Anglo-Saxon community of Australia is slow to accept Romulus due to his eastern European origins that they cannot relate to, however they are able to appreciate Romulus’ fine works and his character following changes in their attitude. – This shows that a cultural barrier is a very real impediment to the creation of relationships. Mao’s Last Dancer – explores the same idea as Romulus. Upon li’s first visit to America he describes himself as having though, “the Americans smiles also unnerved us. Something is wrong. These people are our enemies! ” this shows that miss trust and a lack of mutual understanding can create not only cultural barriers but mental barriers which must be overcome. Fiddler On The Roof – a tale of a Jewish family living on a shelter during pre-revolutionary Russia also demonstrates the very real cultural gap. – Tevye, the protagonist remarks “we don’t bother them, and so far they haven’t bothered us,” referring to the wider Russian community. Immediately the audience is alerted to the segregation of Jewish people from the Russians. – However Tevye continues on to say “amongst ourselves we get along very well”. This is shown to be a fallacy when ironically 2 Jewish children immediately begin arguing over a cow, demonstrating to the audience perhaps there are no such clear-cut distinctions. Paragraph 2 Physical isolation may result in the loss of one’s relationship with a place, and emotional alienation and disconnection can be the cause of discontent. Romulus My Father raimond’s mother, Christine is continually isolated from her surroundings at Frogmore and her emotional disconnection is reflected by Raimond “a dead red gum stood only a hundred metres from the house and for my mother became a symbol of her desolation. ” – Here the landscape is used as an objective-correlative for the misery that Christine feels, and her lack of emotional connection to Frogmore, in contrast to Raimonds personal epiphany later on, demonstrates the importance of the need to feel at ease in a place.

Mao’s Last Dancer – similarly in Mao’s last dancer, Li says “the thought of not being allowed out of china frightened me. ” Despite the fact that china is the place of his birth, Li yearns to return to America due to his emotional connection with his friends at the Houston Ballet Academy. – This blurs the distinction between one’s place of birth and adopted country and challenges the notion that one’s place of birth is one’s automatic place to belong. Fiddler On The Roof fiddler on the roof however supports the notion that a place is a place, and that a family and community are what make it special. Tevye says “in anatevka, everyone is like a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. ” Through this he stresses the importance of the people in the community rather than the actually benefits of physical attributes of Anetevka itself. Paragraph 3 Finally, relationships between people and ideals they hold dear may be a cause of conflict I the course of attempts to create connections. Romulus My Father this can be seen in Romulus My Father when Raimond develops a fondness for the delinquent characters in Blackboard jungle, but his teacher subsequently warns him “if you did anything bad, the disappointment would kill your father. ” – The traditions of raising children in a responsible and proper manner can be seen in conflict with raimonds personal freedoms. This conflict creates friction throughout their relationship, particularly with the razor incident. Mao’s Last Dancer – Mao’s last dancer also explores conflicts in ideals, with li’s defection from the Chinese to the Americans tearing him apart. He says “I had nightmares…I would be shot on a wall with my family, like the people back home in the commune. ” Here, through emotive language he displays particular concern for the welfare of his family, which can be seen as the cost of his perceived dereliction of the concept of filial piety for western notions of freedom and individuality. Fiddler On The Roof – Tevye, in fiddler on the roof emerges as a die-hard traditionalist despite his grief for losing his daughter, Chava. He says “Traditions, traditions…if we had no traditions our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. – At the end, he gestures to the fiddler, who represents tradition, to follow him on his path to exile, despite all the hardships he endures in attempting to uphold is traditional ideals which he feels a firm dedication to. Conclusion Through text such as Romulus My Father, Mao’s Last Dancer, and Fiddler Om The Roof, it can be perceived that belonging and its antithesis isolation co-exist in relation to people’s relationships with their places, other people and their ideals, and thus belonging is in fact about making connections.


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