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Interaction and Belonging

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Q.) ‘An individuals interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging.’ -Discuss this view with detailed reference to your prescribed text and ONE other related text of your choosing.

Belonging is a natural force within all individuals; it relies on a sense of connection to place, family, relationships and the world around. Through the interaction with others and the world around, an individual may become enriched or limited in the way in which they belong to a group, community or place. This notion is explored through the texts, the poem St Patricks College By Skrynecki, and the short story ‘Home Game’ by David Bateson.

Human Beings are social animals, we have a fundamental desire to be part of group, and therefore starting a new school can be a challenging task. Cultural differences can set up barriers to belonging, Third person narration within ‘Home Game’ gives the voice to the awareness of the challenges faced by the boy. “His name was Yang Jim Su.” The use of humour, “Su could be a draw back. There was three girls called sue in the school.” Establishes the difference between cultures, and suggests the barriers to needed overcome in order to belong. We are exposed to Yang’s desperation in an attempt to belong, as he searches for something or someone familiar he can relate to, ‘There was another Korean three lines away.’

This impression suggests his differences have forced him to become isolated, due to his cultural differences, unable to interact with the other pupils. With reference to numbers, ‘one boy against, two hundred boys,’ Yang Jim su’s inability to interact is highlighted, this is further emphasised through the juxtaposition of colour imagery of his clothing, his ‘red jacket and yellow sneakers’ in sharp contrast to ‘ all the others wore plain grey shorts,’ more so supports his alienation due to his cultural differences. From this, we can see that the barriers to belonging such as, Yang jims Su cultural differences, has limited his chances to network with the other children, without this communication bond, Yang suffers a limited experience of belonging within his new school, and the individuals within in its cohesive boundaries.

One can also say that communication differences are highlighted repetitively, reinforcing Yang ‘s inability to interact with other individuals. Provoked through the use of repetition of the italicised word ‘shoes’ conveys the difficulty the boy has understanding English, ‘he did not understand why shoes was funny.’ Unable to communicate efficiently, places greater pressure on Yang as he faces problems and situations where he is left further isolated and embarrassed due to his lack of understanding. The use of the basic universal communication mechanism of ‘smiling’ is used repetitively to further emphasise yang’s great difficultly to understand English, and furthermore communicate with others. ‘He could not think why he ought to smile for she had not said shoes.’ This in the mind of Yang’s is projected as a very real situation, and displays to the reader that through these cultural barriers Yang has lacked the skills to interact with individuals and the world around him, which has placed a great limitation on his understandings to belong.

Time can be a prime factor in determining change; we are shown as time fluctuates Yang develops a sense of identity, through finding a familiar object he is the ability to interact. ‘Then a familiar round leather ball came rolling along the ground towards him, almost as if by magic.’’ The third person narration depicts, Yang’s actions as he ‘used his foot to flip the ball back on his knee, and then bounced it up on his head.’ The illustrated interaction Yang has with this soccer ball the use of verbs, ‘flip, bounced, tumbled’ promotes his understanding of the object, the narration informs us of the objects relevance, ‘just like many he had played with in Korea’. The use of the reoccurring motif simile, ‘yet they were not regarding him like a stranger from an alien land.’ Grants us with the notion of Yang’s interpretation of belonging, he felt part f the group.

The reference to yang’s cultural differences, ‘ it was a sort of international language,’ Yang is depicted through interacting with this soccer ball, it is also able to then interact primarily with the other students, as well as communicates as it is seen as ‘almost a international language’ Likewise the poem, St Patrick’s Day by Skrynecki focuses on the journey of a young boy attempting to make connections with individuals and the world around him, as he begins a new school. We see the lack of control he holds over beginning this particular new school, due to his mothers love, ‘wanting only what was best.’ Skrzynecki uses school-based jargon to illustrate his lack of understanding of his environment and highlight his sense of not belonging. For instance, his humorous reference to the school motto, ‘luceat Lux Vestra’ demonstrates his incomprehension of its significant meaning as he thought it ‘was a brand of soap’. Skrzynecki questions the relevance of his catholic education, as seen in the metaphor ‘uncertain of my destination.’ He does not know what the future holds for him and feels disengaged from his education. This disconnection, bring upon the resentment of not wanting to interact with the school.

The poet’s religious education is seen to not contribute to his sense of belonging. Throughout the poem, there are a number of references to religious activities. These reflect the experiences of a Catholic school education at the time “mother…/said a prayer/for my future intentions.” Skrzynecki’s mother is religious and this would have informed her choice of school. The tone used by the poet implies that he was untouched by his religious experiences, ‘mass was offered up/ for our departing intentions.’ Although Peter interacted with thin the school community, it has not shaped his sense of identity, and therefore had no profound effect on his life. This states that the individuals interaction with the world around him, has taken a limited toll on the boy experience to belong.

The poet’s sense of not belonging is extended to include the surrounding suburb of Strathfield, where his school is located. Skrzynecki walks around the suburb of Strathfield with a sense of disconnection. of not belonging, feeling ‘like a foreign tourist.’ This simile creates a sense of irony as Skrzynecki is from a foreign background and he may feel isolated at school for the very reason. This brings about the notion of a cultural difference, being a barrier to inhibiting peter to belong, much like Yang’s situation in ‘Home Game’, mentioned before.

Skrzynecki’s choice of disconnection and interaction with the schools intentions, promoted an overriding sense that peter never belonged to St Patrick’s, permeating the poem. A second reference to the religious
statute of ‘our lady’, which in the final stanza is ‘unchanged by eight years’ weather’, creates a sense of irony as not much has changed for Skrzynecki either, he has been minimally altered by his educational experiences. This being said Skrzynecki’s choice to not interact with the world around him, predominately his school environment, has proposed that the lack of interaction with individuals and the world around him has in fact limited his experiences of belonging within the school.

The relationship between peter and his mother has displayed a series of tension, as mother and son interact, individuals ideas about what it means to belong clash. Her educational and spiritual values are culturally dictated, while peter is removed from these experiences. The end of the poem links back to the beginning through reference to peter’s mother. Peter ‘prayed that mother would someday be pleased.’ Which highlights the burden of expectations he feels and is ironic juxtaposed with other prayers in the poem.

In is apparent that the two text have thoroughly highlighted the ways in which an individual’s sense of belonging is either enriched or limited. Predominantly these two texts highlight that individuals have been inadequate through their interaction with other individuals and the world around them. The text ‘Home Game’ shifts over time to show that, interaction Yang develops through discovering a familiar object, improves immensely his experience of belonging to a community. While ‘St Patrick Day’ poem, is shown to be more of a choice to disconnect from the world around, and the interaction is seen to be primarily with peter and his mother. This is seen to further limit his experience to belong within the school community due to a clash of the individuals ideology of what it means to belong, as he feels the burden of expectations from his mother fall greatly upon him to respect.

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