Peter Skrzynecki – Belonging

BELONGING
Composers construct perspectives of belonging in texts by using various methods such as Film techniques, Poetic techniques and Language techniques. This essay will discuss perspectives of belonging as constructed by three specific authors, Peter Skrzynecki with the poems Post Card and Migrant Hostel, Green Day with the lyrics of American Idiot, and the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher??™s stone directed by Chris Columbus.
The poem Post Card explores Skrzyneckis understand of belonging. This part of the essay will analyse Post Card and provide a deeper understanding of Peter Skrzyneckis sense of belonging through his use of imagery, juxtaposition, alliteration, metaphor, and dialogue. Due to his sense of being an outsider, he finds the traditions of Polish culture and intrinsic part of his inability to belong.

The title of this poem, Post card, provides a sense of not belonging in itself, as the postcard is a symbolic representation of the distance that the person appears to feel about his connection to Poland. The use of the title text is a direct metaphor for this sense of not belonging. The persona expresses a feeling of regret and anxiety on its arrival. The phrase Haunts me is a metaphor that indicates his anxiousness. This is the immediate expression of Skrzynecki??™s constant struggle with having one foot in three different cultures, one being Australia, the other two being Poland and Ukraine. The title Post Card is self explanatory, yet emphasizes on the distance. A perspective of anxious confusion is created by the title for the audience via the use of the metaphor as a symbol for distant relationships trying to create a bridge, emphasizing the personas sense of not-belonging.
Another language technique that is used is a Rhetorical device, which is present in the second stanza. It provides us with regurgitating information as to which the persona has constantly been fed by his parents, about the old town, Warsaw. This information distances the persona from the city and country as he is so cold and objective about the city and the information he recites. An example of said distance would be the lines ???I never knew you, except in third person ???, indicating that he has never visited, but only ever heard stories from a different perspective.

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The concept of belonging, not-belonging, and rejection are equally balanced in the poem ???Migrant Hostel??™ and are depicted by the language and images. Family is the great identifier in this poem, illustrated by inclusive languages of collective pronouns; ???left us wondering???, ???we lived like birds of passage???, ???whose track we would follow???, ???from our doorstep??? and ???daily we passed???. Further images of bonding are ???nationalities sought each other out distinctively like homing pigeons???. Within this poem, there is some sense of cohesion and empathy with the other migrants. The idea of belonging is incorporated into the text as the migrants slowly begin to feel a sense of belonging as they adjust to the new landscape and develop friendships with fellow migrants who share the same customs to them.

Languages and images of exclusions include; ???partitioned off at night???, ???a barrier at the main gate sealed off the highway???. The comparison of the barrier, ???As it rose and feel like a finger pointed in reprimand or shame???, is a powerful image of rejection. The cumulative of these negative images alienates the migrants reinforcing the idea that they are outsiders, and not accepted as part of the wider community.
Skrzynecki presents a chilling image of the harsh reality of migrants??™ initial unwelcoming experiences in a foreign country.
The title of the song ???American Idiot??™ by Green Day refers to the state of the United States at that point in time. It speaks of a nation controlled by the new, biased media, and how the singer, Billie-Joe Armstrong, is not a part of this ???Redneck agenda??™, but a part of the segment of the population that does not adhere to the rules of the mainstream, a group of people sometimes accused of being un-American or communists.
The media??™s? influence on the society? is a main issue, which is portrayed though the lyrics. People tend to believe a large quantity of information that is presented by news (???One nation controlled by the media???) and entertainment programs. The media is so powerful that it can make the audience agree or disagree on whatever is being presented.
This is a song of rebellion against what is becoming the status quo of the U.S.A, and implies a band-wagon approach to life, as to how everyone in the society just does something because everyone else is doing it.
It is clear that the artist does not belong, or does not want to belong to a society who is unable to think for themselves. The singer portrays a feeling of alienation, and lack of acceptance. It relates to being stuck in a world, alone, where people won??™t have the same views as the artist. The audience is positioned to agree with Green Day??™s political stance and their view of America??™s society in that point in time.
Many aspects of belonging and not-belonging within the film ???Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone??™ are mainly shown within the first few scenes of the movie.
After Harry Potter??™s parents were killed by the greatest dark wizard of all time, when he was at the age of one, he was placed into the care of his muggle (non-wizard) aunt and uncle, his only living relatives. For ten years, they and their son Dudley constantly make Harry feel unwelcome and out of place by taking every chance they get to remind him that he does not belong in their family. For example, he is continuously mistreated, neglected, punished for the slightest thing and forced to live in the under-cupboard of the stairs, while his cousin Dudley on the other hand is spoilt, overindulged and receives affection. This would be enough to make anyone feel as if they don??™t belong.
It is on Harry??™s eleventh birthday that an interesting turn of events occurs. Hagrid, the grounds-keeper at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, delivers a letter to Harry telling him that he has been accepted as a student at Hogwarts. It is then that Harry discovers his parents were magical, and that he, himself, is a wizard. Harry is filled with excitement to be leaving his old life behind, in favour of one where he belongs and will be happy.
In conclusion, belonging is shown using many forms of language techniques. There are a number of important elements flowing around the idea of belonging; identity, acceptance, relationship and understanding. Each of the texts shows us a strong will to belong and we can see that the ways people achieve belonging emerge from all these elements.

By Tenille Pearce