Connections made with a community or a group have the potential of profoundly impacting an individual’s sense of self. Interactions with people of that community and the physical environment that houses it are vital in developing an individual’s identity. On the other hand, belonging to a group may refer to the more complex familial and external bonds which require a great deal of understanding and acceptance.
Raimond Giata’s memoire Romulus My Father, a film Under the Tuscan Sun by Audrey Wells and Margaret Wild’s picture book Woolvs in the Sitee all explore an individual’s relationship with their community and groups by either eulogising or visually illustrating the impacts of these connections on one’s sense of self. An individual’s sense of self is affected by his or her belonging to their community and its physical surroundings. Being an immigrant, Romulus gains recognition by proving his “worth” through hard work.
Gaita uses personification in “his materials…seemed to be in friendship with him” to reinforce the bond that exists between Romulus and his work, therefore highlighting the significance of such connection on the evolvement of his “character”. Use of contrasting characterisation of Christine with Romulus, further illustrates the detrimental effects of social rejection on one’s sense of self, which in Christine’s case leads to mental instability and her suicide. Christine’s promiscuous nonconformist behaviour is a barrier to belonging as she often criticised in being a “characterless woman” by her others.
The recurring motif of suicide strengthens the negative impacts of alienation on an individual’s sense of self. Through the contrasting characterisation, Gaita reflects that belonging to one’s community is vital as it benefits identity, while a lack of it has serious detrimental effects on an individual’s sense of self. Belonging to a group refers to the more abstract familial and external relationships. Actions of others in the group are essential catalysts for an individual to belong or feel alienated.
Gaita recalls Romulus’s compassionate actions, “he denied himself so that I would have more and fainted from hunger”. Evidently, their strong familial bond has positively shaped Romulus and Raimond’s sense of self. Hora and Romulus’s friendly relationship shows understanding and acceptance that benefits both characters’ sense of identity. When marriage separates them, Romulus “especially missed Hora” and emotive language in the “pain of it showed in his eyes” display the intense connection between the two, this eflects that belonging to external groups is equally crucial as familial ties. Contrastingly, Mitru and Romulus’s turbulant relationship, fueled by Christina’s extra-marital affair with Mitru damaged his sense of self, as he felt like “a retched man” by betraying a friend, this guilt ultimately results in his suicide. Thus the nature of external attachments can benefit or have detrimental impacts on an individual’s sense of self. Wells effectively illustrates the importance of connecting to a community and group.
He conveys this through the metaphor of “home”, an asset much valuable than just four adjacent brick walls. Frances, the protagonist loses her prised “home” along with her seemingly happy marriage, fuelled by her husband’s infidelity. Although, Wells uses symbol of a desk to shows that Frances’s perception towards home changes. Will you take “the desks? ” she is asked, to which she replies “actually, everything’s going to stay”, the use of close-up shots here, amplifies the impacts of social rejection on one’s self-perception.
This shows that an individual’s place in the world is where they feel a connection to the environment they live in, and more importantly, the people they share their lives with. France’s desperate relocation to foreign Tuscany leaves her even more amiss into buying a huge crumbing old villa, “Bramasole”; this reflects her failed attempt to restore her sense of security. Frances seeks “a family” “a wedding” and “someone to cook for”, this highlights the significance of familial connections towards one’s self evolvement.
Although further interactions with the Tuscan community and individuals such as Senior Martini and lady Katharine, provide her moral support. Another short dysfunctional relationship with Marcello overthrows her self-esteem. This event is foreshadowed in the movie through violent ocean waves during her visit to Positano, giving the audience a warning towards the fore-coming events. Therefore, connection is not an easy process, it takes much time, effort and willingness to develop and nurture.
Eventually, the refurbishment of “Bramasole” has completed, Frances is again surrounded by friends and family. Well’s shows that any form of rejection from human fellowship can have serious consequences on both a social, personal and emotional level. Thus, this shows the importance of connections to one’s community, its environment and group in shaping one’s self-perception and well-being. Margaret Wild’s picture book, Woolvs in the sitee, is about alienation that is a consequence of the breakdown of a community.
This isolation and lack of communal belonging is mirrored through the dramatic images that predominantly use red and black charcoal colours to create a mood of danger and despair that pervades the entire text. The use of phonetic language, such as “woolvs”, “bloo” and the “sitee” is effective in distancing the audience from the text as it makes the text difficult to comprehend. Thus, Wild enables responders to experience similar feelings of alienation as the central character Ben, therefore immediately evoking empathy for his isolation.
Through the metaphor of the wolves and the shadows, Wild conveys a sense of paranoia pertaining to loss and Ben’s ominous past suggesting his fear to result from losing his familial belonging. She uses allusion to portray this fear by drawing parallels to the pre-existing sinister image of wolves established by legends like ‘The Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Three Little Pigs’. Thus, through an absence of belonging to a community and familial unit, Wild suggests that these institutions are essential in benefitting an individual’s sense of self.
Thus, through the memoir Romulus My Father, the film Under the Tuscan Sun and a picture book Woolvs in the sitee, it is apparent that strong connections with community or group can have positive or negative impacts on an individual’s sense of self. Such interactions with community, along with its physical environment, in coherence with the attachments to various familial and external groups, enhance one’s ability to ultimately ‘belong’ in the wider society. This challenging ‘path’ to belonging is achieved through various connections, but can impact one’s emotional and psychological health.