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Extended response to journeys

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  • Pages: 10
  • Word count: 2374
  • Category: Journeys

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A journey consists of the movement from one place to another where the individual or group of people undergoes a progression of change and development. The journey whether it is physical, inner or imaginary can have lasting effects on an individual and can be negative or positive in nature. The composers of different texts all employ a number of different techniques to convey their ideas about journeys and the impact that such journeys may have on an individual.

This aspect of journeying is explored in a variety of texts including the poetry of Peter Skrzynecki’s Immigrant Chronicles ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ and ‘Immigrants at Central Station’, stimulus text ‘The Ivory Trail’ by Victor Kelleher, the classic film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ produced by Victor Fleming and the picture book ‘Window’ by Jeannie Baker. Through the textual techniques imbedded in each text, each composer offers different perspectives on the concept of journeys.

Skrzynecki’s poem ‘Crossing the red sea’ portrays the fearful and arduous physical journey undertaken by the immigrants from their war-torn European past to the Southern Hemisphere. It highlights both the past and present experiences of the immigrants creating a sense of uncertainty about the future as past memories continually haunt them. The poem opens with a description of the uncomfortable journey as the immigrants are experiencing ‘the day’s heat’ coupled with painful memories of their past lives. A sense of hope however, is created symbolically as they gradually relieve themselves of their past and ‘look for shorelines’.

Assonance of the short ‘u’ sound in words such as ‘dialogue’, ‘hung’, ‘interruption’, ‘runs’ and ‘rusted’ highlights the connection between discourse, reminiscences and sounds of the waves. It furthermore creates a rhythm emphasising calmness and tranquillity as the travellers embark upon their journey. The use of descriptive language enables a responder to envisage their journey through the situations and appearances of the passengers. The biblical allusions to Red Sea and Lazarus insinuate a spiritual journey.

The title ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ parallels the story of Moses leading the Israelites away from the pain and hardships they endured in Egypt to the ‘Promised Land’. This correlation is appropriate as the notion of poem accounts the journey of the immigrants to a land of opportunity. Reference of Lazarus, is made in ‘Touched the eyes of another Lazarus’, suggesting the immigrants are experiencing a new life and a second chance for a better future. This biblical theme of liberation from persecution accentuates that the journey is taking the immigrants to a place of refuge.

The motif of red imagery is repeated throughout expressing various ideas which give a more personal and emotional effect on the responder. The title ‘Red Sea’ refers not only to the biblical images of salvation, but also to the pain and bloodshed as a result of WWII. Communism is referenced in ‘And looked at red banner’ alluding to the society that the immigrants are fleeing from. A subsequent reference to the colour red purported in ‘I remember a field of red poppies’ which is a personal reminiscence illustrating beautiful memories of their home country.

This statement however is contradicted by negative connotations as red poppies symbolise Remembrance Day and fallen soldiers. This darkening idea is further intensified in the line ‘Blood leaves similar dark stains… on stones or rusted iron’, signifying execution or imprisonment. Blood imagery is used again in the hyperbole ‘A blood-rimmed horizon’ to convey the feelings of fear and uncertainty as they meet their challenges when moving towards their new life. The film ‘Wizard of Oz brings to life the classic story of Dorothy, who travels to the Land of Oz and follows the “yellow brick road” in the hope of finding a way home to Kansas.

Unlike ‘Crossing the Red Sea’, the film progresses through an entire dream sequence, creating an imaginative journey as dreams are the archetype of the imagination. The film’s crux lies in the notion that imaginative journeys can assist individuals to comprehend and resolve real life problems. Clearly highlighted is the notion that the journey and not the destination is of supreme significance. This concept is depicted in Dorothy’s journey into the imaginative representation of her reality, which ultimately lead her to better perceive and resolve her dilemmas in Kansas.

Victor Fleming establishes Dorothy’s imaginative journey via the use of weather elements, particularly the device of the storm, which symbolises the precise moment where Dorothy departs to journey “somewhere over the rainbow”. Her entrance to the imaginative world is heralded by a transition from the mono-chrome of Kansas to the bright and vivid colours of Oz. Eccentric and paranormal music also plays a part in signifying the transformation of worlds particularly whilst she is trapped in the tornado. The timeless aspect of imaginative journeys is also depicted in the film through the exclusion of time.

Time has never been established and there is no distinction between one day and another in the film. This demonstrates that imaginative journeys are not bounded by time or place. Parallels between her reality in Kansas and the imaginary world of Oz is another technique used to signify an imaginative journey. Dorothy utilises her imagination to resolve her issues through familiar situations and human characters. This can be seen through the resemblance between the characters and their roles in Kansas and her companions in Oz.

Dorothy seems to also realise this connection as she subconsciously acknowledges this by remarking to the scarecrow ‘I feel as though I know you”. By overcoming her obstacles through the quest to journey back to Kansas, Dorothy learns not to run away, but face her initial challenge. This growth in Dorothy’s character exhibits the power that imaginative journeys have in transforming an individual. Similarities are evident between Dorothy’s journey and the immigrant’s journey in ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ because they both realise that their beliefs are not in fact the reality.

They venture on a journey with false beliefs where they are immensely confronted with the reality towards the finale of their journey. The book cover of ‘The Ivory Trail’ by Victor Kelleher again depicts an imaginative journey by transporting responders to a-typical location, where the composer challenges the stereotypical views that life has fixed certainties and journeys have endings. This is communicated in the by line ‘Not all journeys have an ending’. This statement challenges the audience to speculate about what this may denote.

It also implies that what is learnt on the journey is more important than the destination itself. The, layout, font size, colour usage and graphics are all techniques the composer employs to create a captivating book cover, ultimately taking responders on an imaginative journey as they conjecture about the contents of the book. Focus is placed on the author’s name through the stark contrast of white and the warm shades of red and black, leading responders gaze to the title. The juxtaposition of light and darkness creates a sense of mystery, excitement and limitless possibilities that expose themselves on an imaginative journey.

The title ‘The Ivory Trail,’ printed in ivory, brings to mind images of elephants and the prohibited ivory trade. It conveys a dangerous journey on an unpaved road across a wild terrain. These words in the title are progressively amplified in size so that the emphasis is placed directly on the word ‘trail’. The staggered positioning of text and the use of diverse font sizes adds to this feeling of a pervading menace. The visual element of this cover is the most appealing as it presents a representation of a physical journey. There are three images on this cover in a montage of shots which merge to form a continuous fused background.

A boy on the foreground is looking out from under the drift of desert sands. The emotion the boy’s eyes convey raises questions about where this journey might lead to. The Sphinx in the middle ground is mask-like which serves as a contrast to the boy’s eyes. This distinction emphasises that the boy travelled to a foreign place, thus illustrating an aspect of journey. The last image in the background features minarets which symbolise a spiritual and exotic culture. These images are deliberately overlapped, giving the cover the sense of depth and suggesting a distance to the journey between them.

The graphics employed by the composer radiate a sense of wander, exploration and a journey that is limited only by one’s imagination. The two texts ‘The Ivory Trail’ and ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ convey opposing journeys as communicated by ‘trail’ and ‘crossing’. Trail represents a marked out path that is usually associated with land, where unlike the sea, the journey is usually unpredictable with no set path mapped out for the traveller. Skrzynecki’s ‘Immigrants at central station’, 1951 depicts the immigrants’ difficult task of leaving behind their past as they depart from Central Station being transported to a migrant hostel.

As a continuation of ‘Crossing the Red Sea’, a sense of difficulty and displacement is expressed as the immigrants once again have to confront many challenges within their journey. It emphasises the emotions experienced before a journey, especially when travelling to an unknown destination. The title of the poem distinguishes time and place which conveys a vigorous metaphorical image helping responders to contextualise the circumstances the travellers are enduring. A melancholy tone is established at the beginning in “It was sad to hear… it had rained”.

Images of “rain” and “sadness” communicate images of depression. The rhythm of the poem is slow reinforcing the image of waiting in the rain. It captures the collective feelings of the immigrants who wait anxiously for the next stage of their journey to commence. The repetition of the word sad at the beginning and end emphasise the immigrants’ constant fear of the journey as they are reminded of the uncertain future which lies ahead. A motif of death is conveyed in the simile “Against each other like cattle bought for slaughter” and draws parallels to the Jews being sent to their death in concentration camps.

Strong negative connotations are conveyed through their thoughts of despair as to where they are travelling towards. The immigrant’s comparison to “cattle” suggests that they are dehumanized, emphasising the feelings of dislocation from society in their new country. The tone is accentuated by depressing words such as silence, cold and dampness which establish the sad fearful and discontented mood of uncertainty. The powerful image created in the simile “Like a guillotine-cutting us off from the space of eyesight” symbolises the final cut between the present and the past.

It defines the point where “there is no going back” to the past life they once knew if they take upon this journey. This would stress the crucial decision and sacrifices that the immigrants had made to taken upon this journey. A sense of apprehension is communicated through the personification of time in “Time waited anxiously with us”. It accentuates the idea that the journey is so great that time itself seems to slow down, mirroring their anxiety to see what their future holds. This notion is juxtaposed in “While time ran ahead” suggesting that time is suddenly moving too quickly on this journey.

The rhythm of the poem immediately accelerates reinforcing the image of the train leaving. It enunciates a sense of sadness and regret about leaving their past and journeying into the future. Both poems composed by Skrzynecki are perfect examples of the impact and effects that a journey can have of an individual. ‘Window’, a text free picture book by Jeannie Baker chronicles the inner journey of a changing suburban landscape by tracing a boy’s journey from birth to fatherhood. An inner journey is embarked upon as it explores the concept of journeying through the development that is captured in the boy and the environment.

In doing so, the book serves the purpose of expressing the composer’s message to society. Each double spread page contains the motif of a window through which responders witness the growth of the boy and the gradual changes in the environment taking place around him. Responders are presented with a different view of the environment through the same window creating a sense of time. The picture book expresses the concept of a physical journey through changes can be seen in both the boy and the environment by using only visuals which are the main focus of each page.

Responders are intrigued to the scenery as these images invite the reader to compare the transformations that has eventuated since Sam was an infant until he becomes 22. A sense of journey is created as responders are also undergoing a learning process of how such insignificant changes can ultimately affect the overall landscape. The foreground includes details such as birthday cards and emerging cracks in the wall which helps the reader to trace Sam’s growth process and the passage of time.

From these details, a responder can determine that each new scene of his life is captured every two years. A definite change is made to the window in the last scene which symbolises that the journey to urbanisation has come and is recommencing. The use of a bright white window compared to the previous dull beige coloured window connotes a fresh new start to the journey. The physical journey that is taken under by the boy in the narrative recognises the issue of urban sprawl. Without the use of words, the meaning of the book is expressed more powerfully as it relies solely on visual imagery.

This enables responders to draw their own interpretations or conclusions, thus encouraging a thoughtful rather than a reactionary approach. The journeys presented in ‘Window’ and in both of Skrzynecki’s poems are diverse. The persona in ‘Window’ undergoes an inner journey where responders explore changes that the persona experiences on his journey. The immigrants in Skrzynecki’s poetry ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ and ‘Immigrants at Central Station’ expose all the hardships and strenuous difficulties that they endure on their physical journey.

Through the composer’s use of various techniques, the different texts have explored the ideas, impacts and effects that a journey can have on an individual. Not only is a journey physical, but it can also be imaginative or inner where the individual encounters challenges resulting in an influential experience. An individual’s journey experience provides opportunities to enhance one’s greater sense of self and understanding of the world resulting in an overall transformation.

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