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We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power,

freedom and fun. Quote by William Glasser


Good Morning Students and Teachers
We all have that desire to fit in and blend into whats deemed as mainstream, in
foreign places we tend to search for some form of familiarity in order to establish
a sense of comfort, a sense of belonging. We form connections with people,
places, groups, communities and the larger world and subconsciously generate
an impression of belonging. The concept of Belonging varies from perceptions
and ideas and these perceptions are shaped by different contexts: personal,
historical, cultural and social. There are negatives and positives, obstacles and
barriers that are able to prevent or enhance this Belonging and Peter
Skrzynecki successfully explores this complex concept in his Anthology; The
Immigrant Chronicles more specifically within the poems Feliks Skrzynecki ,
10 Mary Street and St. Patricks College and in comparison Shaun Tan
effectively grasps the concept of Belonging wholeheartedly and expresses this
within his picture book Eric.
The poem Feliks Skrzynecki portrays an affectionate portrait of the poets
father Felix. This poem suggests that belonging is stemmed from the connection
we form to people and places and also our choice to belong. The touching
opening of the poem, My gentle father, immediately demonstrates a sense of
ownership and intimacy showing the sons feelings towards his father showing
that he belongs to his father and the father to him; this is represented through
the use of the personal possessive pronoun My. The idiom kept pace only with
Joneses brings to light colloquialism within the poem and that Feliks belonging
to Australia is merely surface deep. Feliks individuality is shown when Peters
says of his own minds making showing Feliks choice to not belong and
showing that he set his own standards. Loved his garden like an only child this
simile portrays the personas link towards his garden (place) and shows the
belonging and ownership he has created within his garden. This paternal feel and
the deliberate use of the words like an only child suggest some jealousy that
Peter may have towards his fathers garden as the affection the father shows
towards his garden is set as if that was his main and only priority. Stanza three
suggests a pride for the shared heritage with the use of His Polish Friends
Polish being a heritage that connects them (Feliks and his friends) together and
fostering a sense of belonging. Talking, they reminisced. The cumulation of
positive verbs carries a sense of their nostalgia. Revealing the personas
belonging he created on his own to his own standards and his choice to not
belong.
Similarly, in 10 Mary Street Peter Skrzynecki presents a sense of belonging
towards the house he had come to love and know, just like Feliks Skrzynecki
towards his garden. Although the tone of the title in itself is more fact than
emotion since its called 10 Mary Street and not The place I truly belong or
something along those lines. 10 Mary Street, however, deals with immigrants
claiming an identity only to have it taken away. 10 Mary is nostalgic and refers
to the poets many years of building and settling into the foundation for him and
his familys new life in Australia. The house in itself is of a cultural and stable
significance representing place, ritual, culture, community and stability. The first
stanza may establish a sense of belonging and stability it also however

simultaneously undermines it. Over that still too narrow bridge . This line
suggests sense of belonging and the deliberate use of the word narrow
symbolises the restriction and limitations the persona may have in regards to his
level and experience of acceptance. The factory that was always burning down
Peter deliberately mentions the factories as due to their manufacturing
capabilities their products are created just like Peters relationships which are
always burning down.
St. Patricks College the factual tone throughout this poem, similar to the title
of 10 Mary Street, represents the disconnection of the personas physical and
mental sense of belonging towards Australian culture and the college and a
conceived emotional attachment as Skrzynecki never establishes any sense of
acceptance or belonging towards the school. In an attempt to fit in and blend
Peters mother enrols him into St. Patricks College as she was Impressed by
the uniforms Of her employers sons. This not only reveals no emotional
attachment but it shows that his mother does not base her decision on tradition
but rather on Keeping up with the Joneses a phrase mentioned in Feliks
Skrzynecki. The idiom unequivocally presents the idea of how people follow
around with whats mainstream and what was best rather than keeping an
unbiased or uninfluenced opinion. The personification of the statue of Mary on
the roof of the school in the line Our lady watched with outstretched arms, her
face overshadowed by clouds. Reveals an ambiguous perception of the personas
fate as the boy denoted the action as being a sign of his coming depressing time
in St Patricks College showing no sense of belonging. Caught the 414 bus like a
foreign tourist this deliberate wording emphasises the absence of any form of
belonging showing that he feels like a mere visitor rather than a permanent
resident and citizen revealing that his challenge to belong isnt rather a choice
but more so that he cannot belong in a school he was forced into for the sake of
his mother.
Correspondingly, the related text Eric by Shaun Tan similarly resembles that of
Peter Skrzyneckis anthology The Migrant Chronicles as it speaks of a foreign
exchange student in the image of Eric coming temporarily into a new home
with unfamiliar surroundings offering up almost alien experiences for Eric. The
depth and grace of this picture book is enthralled through the intense messages
laid bare in the underlining within Eric. Eric sleeping in the pantry rather than
the traditional guest room symbolises how different cultures and traditions may
work showing a challenge and barrier that is overlooked by the narrator. The
repetition of It must be a cultural thing emphasises the barrier between the
typical suburban family and the main persona Eric bringing forth and
emphasising the cultural aspect that challenges the positives of belonging.
Although the obvious barriers of language and culture Eric seems to find himself
deeply enthralled with each passing day as everything is peculiar and interesting
so instead of revealing a straight forward negative perspective of belonging
Shaun Tan explores the challenges and barriers of culture in regards to
Belonging.
In conclusion, the Anthology of The Migrant Chronicles explores the personal,
historical, social and cultural contexts that shape the perception of Belonging.
Feliks Skrzynecki, 10 Mary Street and St Patricks College each bring to light
the positives and negatives of Belonging through the means of poetic techniques

and correspondingly Eric by Shaun Tan successfully explores the perception of


belonging. Thank You.