Home » Rainbows End + the Lost Thing Essay (Belonging)

Rainbows End + the Lost Thing Essay (Belonging)

Describe how the concept of Belonging is shown in your prescribed text and at least one other related text. Belonging is the complex process whereby perceptions of self and social allegiances are forged or not forget. It is a concept and not a theme, meaning it is a general idea, which encompasses the idea of not belonging. According to Abraham Maslow, belonging is essential in human development and not belonging is a barrier in achieving self-actualisation.

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The concept of Belonging is not static as it may change overtime for a number of different reasons such as an individual’s socio-economic background, geographic location and many other barriers. Although individuals may not belong to self, people, places, communities or the larger world everyone must belong. It is inevitable. For example, a criminal who has been imprisoned and isolated from the rest of society still belongs to himself, the prison and the other prisoners. No man is an island, entire of itself” is a famous quote by John Donne, which represents this idea of belonging, where no body can be totally isolated. From his studies, Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs whereby the physiological needs of food, shelter and water were the fundamentals of human life and self-actualisation was considered to be the pinnacle of the hierarchy. Between these two stages was the need for belonging to self, people, places, communities and the larger world.

The barriers to self-actualisation are shown through a variety of texts, whereby composers highlight differences between two subjects and demonstrate forms of segregation through the use of a variety of methods. In Rainbow’s End by Jane Harrison this idea is portrayed through the use of an extended metaphor of the colour white. The reoccurrence of the colour white represents the Aboriginal society conforming to the English settlers. For example, in Act 1 Scene 6 the inspector comments that Nan Dear’s “whites are so white”.

This shows us that the white society expects the Indigenous people to ‘wash away’ their traditions and way of life and so to conform to them. This same technique is shown where Nan Dear finds an advertisement in the newspaper in Act 2 Scene 6 and says “they’ve got this new powder that guaranteed to turn your skin white. ” to Dolly. Due to the differences in skin colour and tradition Aboriginals were seen as lower class citizens and were alienated from the white society.

Harrison shows this through the use of a simile in Act 1 Scene 1B where Gladys describes the hessian used to hide the Aboriginal housing from the Queen as “a band-aid over a sore”, which creates a negative image of the Indigenous people and their housing. This idea of being different from others around you is also excellently shown in Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing where the majority of the book’s images are made up of dull, unattractive colours such as browns, greys and whites that create a plain and ordinary background.

The colour of ‘the thing’ is a bright red that immediately catches the reader’s eyes, drawing their attention to it. This use of contrast of colour shows that ‘the thing’ is lost, as it obviously does not belong to its surroundings. The exceptional use of these techniques to develop an idea of segregation as a barrier to self-actualisation causes the responder to explore the character’s feelings of isolation and rejection. Although people may feel isolated and alienated from everything around them, they are never alone. It is not possible to be completely disconnected from everything.

For example, a man who has lost all his family and friends and is the only person alive on an island can still relate to the island itself, any living things such as animals and plants and many other things that he shares similarities with. This theme is explored in Rainbows End through Harrison’s use of a number of effective techniques. In Act 1 Scene 2B Dolly whistles loudly to her cousins and yells “Oi! You little monkeys, get that ruddy bicycle back ‘ere or I’ll give youse a kick up the moom! ” before turning to Errol and sarcastically saying “And you were worried about losing your map! ”.

This change of accent and use of word choice between when Dolly is talking to her cousins and when she is talking to Errol shows that Dolly is trying to link with Errol even though they are from different cultures and have different coloured skin. This use of diction emphasises Dolly’s attempt to conform to Errol based on the fact that they are both humans rather than distinguishing between minute factors such as cultural background. This same message is also portrayed through the use of stage directions and dramatic irony in Act 2 Scene 1 where Errol returns to apologise to Dolly about what happened the previous night.

As Errol walked in Dolly’s direction, Gladys and Nan Dear (assuming Errol was the one that raped her), step towards Dolly showing the families sense of unity with one another. However, the audience knows from the previous scene that Errol was not guilty of raping Dolly, rather it was her cousin. So despite the emotional carnage that Dolly experienced such as feelings of neglect when she was left in the rain after she was taken advantage of by her cousin, Dolly still is a firm member of the family.

This very significant message used by composers is also created in Tan’s award winning picture book The Lost Thing where Tan uses intertextuality of a painting called Collins Street, 5pm by John Brack. In Tan’s version of the painting he includes ‘the thing’ in the background of the image to show how despite it clearly not fitting-in with the people crowding the street it still has a purpose and meaning in the picture and therefore it is an important sector of the final image.

The idea that “no man is an island, entire of itself” demonstrated by composers causes the responder to recognise the larger picture in which they can associate themselves with. Through the vast majority of techniques mentioned, it can be seen that many composers incorporate the concept of Belonging in their texts to help intrigue their target audience. The idea of belonging being a need and alienation being a barrier to self-actualisation incorporated with the fact that we are each like a piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle, whereby our connections are what make us belong, therefore meaning that belonging is inevitable.


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