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English Speech on Belonging

Belonging to a group or community has a significant impact on the individual??™s sense of self.??™

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Discuss this statement, focusing on how the composers of the texts you have studied represent the concept of belonging.

The processes and results of belonging are recognised through the studied text ???The Simple Gift??™ written by Steven Herrick and the two additional texts; the film ???Remember the Titans??™ directed by Boaz Yakin and Bob Dylan??™s song ???The Hurricane??™. These composers explore how belonging or not belonging to a group can affect an individual??™s sense of identity and acceptance of themselves and others. Composers allow the audience to understand why people seek identity, acceptance, relationship and understanding. This exploration is achieved through setting, characterisation, visual and language techniques.

Steven Herrick??™s ???The Simple Gift??™ is the story of a very lonely teenager named Billy; he is always left out, he is not accepted in his community and this impacts on his sense of self. This feeling of being the outsider co-exists with the additional texts. These texts recognise racial discrimination towards the black community and their feeling of isolation. Steven Herrick uses slang to emphasise Billy??™s feeling towards his hometown; ???deadbeat no-hoper shithole, lonely downtrodden house???. Slang is realistic and authentic; it reflects Billy??™s age and poor socio-economic background, reinforcing his identity as an isolated teenager. This creates a negative image of home and helps the audience understand why he seeks identity elsewhere.

One setting where Billy finds acceptance is the library. Billy loves reading and when Billy loves reading and when Billy is reading he feels safe and secure, he is not restricted by the reality of his existence. Likewise, the characters in Boaz Yakin??™s film ???Remember the Titans??™ must overcome the reality of their racial difference by uniting as one football team. The setting of the football field is one place where all the team members have a common identity. This is represented by the composer through a long shot half way through the film, of the team on the football field. This is what unites the individual players and helps them overcome their individual prejudices. In contrast, Herrick highlights Billy??™s limited acceptance and exclusion from the local community through the simile ???Men in suits all alike like tired penguins wait for the bus.??? This suggests Billy??™s appearance and daily routine does not conform to the majority and this creates the image of Billy standing out in the crowd. Billy??™s sense of self is mostly impacted upon by his relationship with individuals within the community, rather than belonging to a large group.

Throughout the novel, Billy meets people with whom he establishes lifelong relationships with; one of these people includes Old Bill. Towards the end of the story, Old Bill gives Billy the keys to his house; Billy says, ???I knew I was getting more than keys??? he is referring to opening the door to his new life. It is a sign of great understanding between each other; a symbol of great friendship and loyalty, the development of a relationship, Billy finally belongs. Billy also meets a girl named Caitlin. They develop a friendship which later turns to love. Herrick is able to write believably from a female perspective through her character, using it to juxtapose different social relationships and ways of coping. They are drawn to each other by many factors that are sketched in by the reader and by the sincerity of observations about each other. This again recognises the meaning of belonging through understanding and the establishment of a relationship.

The film ???Remember the Titans??™ directed by Boaz Yakin shares similarities to ???The Simple Gift??™ in the fact that Billy is an outsider which connects with the isolation experienced by black community in this film. This film is set in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971; the time period is recognised due to the setting and clothing worn. Racial integration was an issue around this time as most of the world believed that the blacks were an inferior race and the whites should not even have to associate with them. This film is about a recently integrated high school and its football team. The head coach, Herman Boone is a black man and is set the difficult task of making sure these boys get along; not only on the football field, but in life. Yakin addresses the racial issues in the opening scene; a wide camera shot is used to show the verbal argument and abuse from both races. This allows the audience to recognise the conflict-taking place and the close up helps identify the passion on everyone??™s faces. The audience is able to realise the impact on the black community??™s sense of self.

At the beginning of the film, Boone takes the team to witness a graveyard. The lighting is dark to emphasise the seriousness of what??™s happening. Boone explains to them that it was the sight of ???The Battle of Ginsburg??™ where the men of both races fought the same battle as the team. He reinforces the fact; if they don??™t cooperate as a team, how can we survive as a team. Boaz Yakin uses long camera shots to show all the players and their acknowledgement towards what idea Boone is trying to bring across. Perhaps no one understands more than Gary Bertier and Julius Campbell (two main characters in the film). These players develop a close relationship with each other and acceptance as individuals; they no longer look and judge each other on the colour of their skin. Their friendship is an incredible bond; they treat each other like brothers. Evidence of this is when Gary is in hospital and all he wants to see is Julius, even before his own mother. This reinforces the connection they have.

???The Hurricane??™ written by Bob Dylan is a song about a black boxer named Rubin ???Hurricane??™ Carter. Rubin was training for his next shot at the middleweight title when he was arrested for triple murder of three patrons in Paterson, New Jersey in 1968. ???The man the authorities came to blame, for something that he never done???. No physical evidence was found to link him to the crime. In 1966, the racial tensions were about to burst across the nation; Bob Dylan addresses this racial discrimination in the third stanza, ???If you??™re black you might not as well not show up on the streets, less you wanna draw the heat??? emphasises that black people have no place in the community. This indeed impacts on their sense of self.

Like ???The Simple Gift??™, Bob Dylan uses colloquial language to again appeal to the audience; this is achieved through shortening certain words, for example lyin or leavin. In this song the repetition of ???could-a been champion of the world??? reinforces the devastating effect of racial prejudice as all hope is destroyed. Bob Dylan was deeply moved by Rubin??™s story he ???is ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game???. In Dylan??™s lyrics he states ???And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger. No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.??? This would indeed impact on Carter??™s sense of self; if his own people did not believe, how could he convince the all white jury.

???All of Rubins cards were marked in advance. The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance???. This indicates that Carter could have been set up, just because he is a black man and he was found close to the crime, he was charged with something he did not commit. ???The Hurricane??™ and ???Remember the Titans??™ are similar to each other as they indeed address the issue of racial prejudice. With Carter being sent to prison, the black community being left out of society and Billy being isolated from his hometown, these texts all share similarities that impacted on each character??™s identity and sense of self.

Steven Herrick??™s ???The Simple Gift??™; Boaz Yakin??™s ???Remember the Titans??™ and Bob Dylan??™s ???The Hurricane??™ all demonstrate the importance and concept of belonging. Belonging to a group or community has as significant impact on an individual??™s sense of self. The individual becomes a part of something, develop relationships; safe and secure; and have a sense of identity, acceptance and understanding.

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