Romulus My Father – Belonging
Good morning and thankyou for having me. Belonging is the ability to feel acceptance and understanding within personal, cultural, historical and social environments. The concept of belonging differs between individuals as their perceptions of belonging are influenced by their differing background, understanding and belief, which can be. The main thesis featured in my visual representation is ‘when two worlds collide’ and this is a common theme created within my chosen texts Romulus My Father, Rabbit Proof Fence and Kevin Rudd sorry speech.
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Raimond Gaita’s text, Romulus My Father, conveys the notions of belonging through a reflective autobiographical memoir in which he celebrates and bares witness to his father’s values. He uses first person narration, drawing the reader into the confidence. He portrays the Australian landscape as an evocative metaphor for belonging, identity and alienation through his use of vivid, powerful imagery. The remains of earth scattered below the ‘colliding worlds’ depict the hardships that Romulus will face to conform this new and uncomfortable environment.
The Australian landscape symbolises Romulus’ and Christine’s estrangement from their surroundings and contrasts to the lush European sensibility, ‘to the European eye it seems desolate’. The fragmented image symbolising the isolation and alienation experienced by those who feel they are not a part of the world in which they inhabit. These feelings of isolation are particularly evident in the characters Romulus and Christine, who feel they cannot connect to the barren nature of the Australian environment.
This sense of separation is emphasised by the metaphor of Peppercorns, ‘to mediate between the local and European landscapes’ illustrating their conflicting notions of belonging. The wire fencing between the colliding worlds symbolises the barriers and conflicts that Romulus will have to face in order to feel accepted in his new world. This sense of not belonging can be contrasted to Raimond’s vivid description of his newfound appreciation and sense of connection to the land. “For the first time in my life I was really alive to beauty. Christine is emotionally imprisoned in this remote foreign land, unable to settle into the stereotypical role of being a good mother. Her mental illness and attempted suicide is juxtaposed to the ‘crude’ wire fencing, creating a sense of enclosure and imprisonment driving her towards a sense of isolation and loneliness. The wire fence in the centre of my model indicates the many barriers that Christine is unable to overcome. Gaita emphasises her ‘forsaken appearance’, highlighting her inability to reconcile with her surroundings.
Much like Romulus, the protagonist in “Rabbit Proof Fence”, Molly, is a young Aboriginal girl, who is being persecuted within a white society. Molly is symbolic of the thousands of children forcibly removed from their families. The persecution is highlighted in the scene when Mr Neville, chief protector of Aborigines, is trying to “breed them out”. The difficulty Neville is experiencing in his attempt to extinguish the powerful sense of belonging that Molly has to the land and her people.
Molly speaks in her traditional Aboriginal language saying “we don’t belong here; we are going to our country, our home back at Jigalong”. This depicts her ability to overcome the negative barriers that Mr Neville has put in her way to be isolated from her ‘true’ culture. Her strong connection to the land and her people only make her stronger. Again ‘when two worlds collide’ the strongest spirit will survive. Kevin Rudd addresses the alienation and isolation felt by Aborigines in the Stolen Generation period.
Rudd conveys notions of belonging through an apology speech recognising the mistreatment and “blemished chapter in our nation’s history”. He uses persuasive pronouns throughout the speech such as ‘we’ and ‘us’, to create a sense of a unified nation. The constant use of strong emotive words such as ‘respect’ and ‘commitment’ reinforce the idea that the Aboriginals were marginalised from the whole and by putting this apology forward we must look into the ‘future’ and become one nation. These words are shown on my visual as ‘fallouts’ of the ‘two worlds colliding’.
The fallout represents the barriers and conflicts created when coming from a world where you belong, to a world where you don’t. “There are thousands, ten of thousands of them” that had the ongoing feeling of not belonging to their land and to the white society as a whole. To resolve the mistakes of the past and recreate the future, Rudd made several promises of “new beginnings” and “new partnerships” to symbolise that together we can ‘collide as one world’. “Let us turn this page together: indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and write this new chapter in our nation’s story together”. Let’s grasp this opportunity to craft a new future for this great land: Australia”. The notions of belonging are impacted upon an individual’s unique circumstances, beliefs and ability to conform to their surroundings. Through the texts ‘Romulus My Father’, ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ and Kevin Rudd’s ‘Sorry Speech’, different perspectives of belonging are conveyed. Through these texts, the concept of belonging has broadened my understanding of individuals and the world around me. Thankyou