The Theme of Belonging in Peter Skrzynecki’s Migrant Hostel
Belonging is considered a fundamental aspect of being human; belonging is an ambiguous concept which can offer individuals a sense of identity, security and connectedness. The idea of belonging is a significant and fundamental value in our lives. Belonging most commonly emerges from experience and notions of identity, relationships, acceptance, understanding and culture. (intro ps n poems n related txt – the terminal Steven Spielberg)
“Migrant Hostel” indicates the immigrants’ sense of barriers of the negative perceptions within the hostel. Migrant Hostel begins with the sense of secrecy with the numbers of migrants arriving and leaving, the words ‘comings, goings, arrivals’ and ‘sudden departures’ emphasise this. The rhetorical question ‘Who would be coming next’ highlights the insecurity, surprise and amazement of the migrants who were forced to come to the hostels and alienated from the rest of the population. Skrzynecki uses this technique of a list to convey a sense of dislocation by the migrants. He uses words such as “comings and goings” to describe the uncertainty of their lives. These words are contrasting and suggest that there is no sense of permanence and that the hostel is a temporary environment. In the related text, a scene of Viktor Novorski running up the stairs to see the news, this long shot scene shows how big and how crowded the international transit lounge is and by night it shows how everyone has left and how empty the lounge is, which makes him feel alienated and secluded from the world.
There is a sense of separation shown in the last stanza of Migrant Hostel. The ‘barrier at the main gate’ closes them off from the outside world and is symbolic of their feeling of alienation. The ‘highway’ is symbolic of their route to a new life from which they were prevented. The barrier rises and falls, a constant reminder that they are not wanted and highlights their separation from the real world and their feelings of shame. There is a sense of hope and freedom being offered as “only begun” refers to how life in this new country was only just starting, but their lives were “dying” because as migrants they were expected to drop their “cultural baggage” and take up the “Australian way of life”, thus killing their old traditions, values, beliefs and culture. Likewise, in the movie Mr Novorski enters a red carpet club member area of the lounge trying to watch the news of what had happened in his country, but the security guard comes and kicks him out without hesitation, this scene of Viktor worrying makes him feel even more secluded as the man is making a barrier between where he is and where Viktor is. As the doors close in front of him, the low sound of the music also stops.
The fifth stanza of Feliks Skrzynecki begins the maturing of the poet as he remembers the language of his parents and uses it at the suitable time to defend his father in the face of bureaucratic complacency and ignorance emphasised in his degrading rhetorical question “Did your father ever attempt to learn English?” the son’s disapproval of this unfairness is evident in the imagery of ‘dancing bear-grunts’ implying that the clerk was an animal showing no humanity. This stanza highlights the son’s continuing loyalty to his father and hints to the son’s own journey where the impact of his parent’s heritage begins to affect him. In the related text, The Terminal, a scene of Frank Dixon, the director of customs and border protection, says “I understand you speak a little English” and Viktor reply’s with a “yes” but a confused expression still placed on his face. The only noise or sound being made is of them talking and the sound of Frank taking his food out and placing it on his table, showing as he does not have any respect towards Viktor. In this scene it shows how Skrzynecki’s quote and this scene are similar, since both the people of the countries can speak English; they’re both discriminate towards people who do not speak English.
There is a need of belonging toward your culture which provides you with a sense of acceptance and value. The final stanza changes the poem’s focus to the son and his life revealing his loss of his inherited language altogether ‘I forgot my first Polish word’. This loss is in a sense the loss of his parent’s heritage, thus is the impact of the journey. The father is driven to keep it alive in his son but the final metaphor ‘Hadrian’s Wall’ reveals the certainty that the son will move further away from his father’s heritage in this new land of which his father is silently aware but unable to change his son’s course. This poem depicts the consequences of a physical journey and how experiences are different for each individual on the same journey. Similarly in the related text, a scene of Viktor Novorski talking with Frank Dixon, it shows Mr Viktor repeating the name of his country his country having a excited and happy facial expression, he repeats it so Mr Dixon can say it right. That interpretation there shows that, as you hear the sound of your country to get a strong sense of belonging towards it.
Lyrical Components in Jean Bailey’s Song the Long March
In October 1934 90,000 Red Army soldiers were forced to begin a journey that would be revered worldwide. While retreating from SE China the Kuomintang began to pursue by the Red Army. While travelling and fighting this legion of men marched through 18,000 km of some of the harshest landscape entailing mountain ranges, major rivers, dense forest and icy swamps.
Whilst travelling the soldiers had passed through many provinces, each of which the Army had enforced rules to share among the community and redistributed estate, and left collections of men to help the peasants set up self-governing councils. This journey ultimately brought about the over turn of the governing powers and the establishment of communism.
‘The Long March’ is an objective article detailing the events, consequences and lasting effects that this voyage created. This was a journey based symbolic, sacrificial and political reasons more than any geographical choice, of which the implications may still be noted throughout Asia.
The admiration the long march received is vastly credited to the composition of the Red Army itself. Prior to the journey these men were strangers to one another, but within the Red Army and bonded by a common goal, of communism, were able to unify. The challenging journey required for the men to form trusting and respectful relationships with each other, as their only hope for survival was through teamwork. This is displayed as the Army crosses freezing mountain ranges, ” The stronger hauled at the weaker, or supported them, or carried their rifles”
Through the determination of all involved to achieve their concluding result the physical journey caused a change in the situation and consequently a change in all the men’s priorities.
Within ‘The Long March’ the text highlights how the physical journey enables them to over come adversity. Challenges that would otherwise be concerned unfeasible, were confronted and completed, this determination may be credited to the degree of importance this journey had acquired. This idea may be exposed by the description of soldiers crossing a damaged bridge, “All footing had been removed… below the water churned and frothed…soon twenty-two volunteers… were clinging to the chains and moving along hand over hand”, these soldiers edged across a large river on a chain towards the other side that was on fire while getting shoot at! The challenge was met regardless of the severity.
This is also supported by the text stating that the pursuing Kuomintang had more numerous causalities when crossing the Grasslands and decided to retreat due to the harsh conditions, this is evidence to verify that because they had no ingrained determination to embark on such a challenging physical journey they proved unable to over come adversity.
As The Red Army voyaged across the country, the journey began to take more of a symbolic significance. The respect they received for the sacrifice and determination involved towards voicing their beliefs of communism. The Red Army became a symbol of union and power due to the inability of the Kuomintang to immobilize their forces. Unification of the army’s forces caused them to emerge as a symbol, which was a direct result of the physical journey.
An Army engineer presents his memories of the Red Army displaying their symbolic power, ” at night we sang and made torches… From the summit we could look in both directions and see miles of torches moving forward like a wave of fire”
One point of physical journey I feel this article stresses is the unpredictability of physical journey. The irony of how by retreating from the enemy as they felt they would otherwise be defeated, the Red Army achieved overall victory, or how fear and adversity can incubate love and respect. A physical Journey is unpredictable and uncontrollable and this article is evidence of this.
The Author of ‘The Long March’, Jean Bailey, uses several techniques within the article to stress certain points. Being an objective article Jean uses selective information to enable her stress points and make subtle opinions to increase the articles appeal, this is displayed by the author failing to state most of the Red armies problems, casualties, problems with communism, implemented as such data would counteract tone of article.
The author also uses imagery of many conditions the soldiers with the intention of making the reader feel empathetic towards the soldiers, displayed by “Fog, hail, snow. It grew so cold that breath turned to webbed ice.”
Jean Bailey enforces the idea of unification by using a quote that uses simile with symbolic significance, “…lights coiling like a fiery dragon up the mountainside… torches moving forward like a wave of fire”
The author intends the audience once more to feel empathy and relate to the soldiers as ordinary people by using visual stimulus. This image also conveys the idea of unification and respect among them.
The structure is sequential in the timing of events with a standard introduction and conclusion to add interest to the topic.
Links to Core
The text ‘The Long March’ link with the core topic of Peter Skrzynecki in several ways. The optimism towards the ‘The Long March’ is stated quite explicitly, “Morale was high… companies would sing”, their journey ahead is exciting and will be rewarding, and their situation requires them to aspire for some thing. This is concurrent with emotions felt by Peter’s immigrant’s in ‘Crossing the Red Sea’, whereby the immigrants are escaping there home lands to a place they feel shall offer them and their families opportunities and safety. “They beckoned towards a blood-rimmed horizon…the equator was still to be crossed”, the blood rimmed sunrise signifies the beginning of a new part of their lives and renewal whilst the ‘equator still to be crossed identifies the still huge journey ahead.
Also ‘Immigrants at Central Station’ displays similar emotions, “Along glistening tracks of steel”, which portrays the tracks as dream-like as they are so important to these immigrants journey and are leading them to their new lives.
The common link between the pieces is the creation of optimism. As their situations are currently distressing they look to the future for motivation, and physical journey offers optimism with changes and new opportunities.
A major aspect of ‘The Long March’ is how the soldiers continually over come adversity in many situations along their journey, such as crossing the damaged bridge. Although in Peter Skrzynecki’s poem’s the immigrants initially defeat adversity by travelling to Australia throughout the rest of the poem’s the immigrant’s continue to accept their suffering this is demonstrated when the immigrant stay at the hostel and feel they need sanction from the world, and when Felix Skrzynecki fails to resolve his son’s loss of culture and suffering relationship. However during ‘A Drive in the Country’ we see in the closing lines “walks away from a road that only runs one way.”
A physical journey will never lose momentum but may only be shaken and diverted by ones own choices in life, while the immigrants continually succumbed to adversity they had no control over their lives, but by’ walking away from a road’ they shall alter their path for the better.
Being in article format ‘The Long March’ resultantly is not only subjective but almost reduced of most character emotion and filled mostly with facts, data and details. In direct contrast all of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems are filled with much more emotion based text, like simile, metaphor, imagery.
Whilst ‘The Long March’ comes to a conclusion, none of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems have a sense of finality resultant of how he feels about his journey and life.
The original reason I selected this piece was because I found it so interesting and surreal, The distance they travel and circumstances they endure makes it impossible not to feel for these heroic men, I was surprised also as I never heard of the event before. I felt this article was based on a physical journey that was a true accomplishment and I felt it’s consequences spanned further than any other material I had viewed.
I think the author did a great job portraying the story using this text type, although I think the into duction of side plots or characters would have wrecked the reality of the story, I do feel that this type of article should be more subjective, at least in conclusion.
From my related text I have learned about the events that took place throughout China that led to the establishment of communism.
I felt it was excellent revision for writing articles, as it has all the Structure, content, and layout.
I expanded my knowledge and understanding of physical journey by recognising them for symbolic uses, and being able to inspire and change a nation.
The Sense of Belonging in Peter Skrzynecki’s and Armin Greder’s Poems
A need to belong is an integral component of all individuals. An individual’s sense of belonging is relied on the relationships they form within their lifetime. Their experiences are the key to building strong relationships, it determines whether a sense of belonging is created or destroyed. This is clear through the poems ‘Migrant Hostel’ and ‘St Pats’ by Peter Skrzynecki and the picture book, The Island by Armin Greder. Throughout these texts it is evident that in a negative, fast paced and anonymous environment relationships can’t be formed. If one is unwilling to belong to their environment, they will form no connection to it or others and when others purposefully exclude an individual, strong relationship can’t be formed and an individual will be denied a sense of belonging.
When an individual finds themselves in a situation where they have no control over what their experiences or future is belonging can’t occur. Through the poem ‘Migrant Hostel’, Skrzynecki explores what an actively and anonymous environment can have on an individual’s sense of belonging. This environment is clearly shown through the first stanza, “Sudden departures…would be coming next.” The ominous tone of “sudden” and the use of enjambment allow Skrzynecki to rein act the experiences of the constant flurry of activity and the anonymity that results from the sheer number further leads to this uncertainty and ominous overtones for the reader. In these environments relationships are hard to form. Furthermore, this limited sense of control over their future acts as a block to forming connections to others. Skrzynecki highlights this through the simile, “we lived like birds of passage…change in the weather.” Skrzynecki uses the bird motif throughout this poem to show a lack of freedom of choice that the migrants had over the experiences they had. Their future wasn’t in their hands and this affected their ability to belong and form a connection with the outside world and others. In the last stanza, Skrzynecki used the barrier at the main gate to cement his perception of not belonging to the outside world. This is symbolised from “highway” and this barrier “rose and fell…in reprimand and shame.” Through personification, Skrzynecki offers an insight of how the migrants felt in this limited environment. It made the migrants feel inadequate and unworthy and made them wonder what their future would be like. Therefore, through ‘Migrant Hostel’, it is evident that belonging can’t be sustained in an unstable environment where relationships can’t be formed.
If an individual ignores a sense of belonging to their environment they will not be able to form connections to others and the environment. Skrzynecki, through ‘St Pats’ clearly shows that if an individual is unwilling to be accepted into the environment, it can affect their sense of belonging. This is seen through the second stanza, “Our lady watched…face overshadowed with clouds.” The welcoming quality of “Our lady watched with outstretched arms” is instantly juxtaposed with “her face overshadowed by clouds”. Skrzynecki utilises juxtaposition to add an ominous quality to the situation and to show the reader an uncertainty to his own feeling of being welcomed. An individual’s unwillingness to feel belong to an environment makes it difficult for relationships to be formed. Additionally, this unwillingness to feel a sense of belonging has created a barrier where even time can’t cement a connection. This is explored through beginning of stanza three, “for eight years”. The repetition of “eight years” suggests that even though Skrzynecki was at the school for a long period of time, he still didn’t find a sense of belonging with the environment or with others. It shows an insight of how he still hasn’t accepted the school and the people around him. He could have a sense of belonging but chooses not to accept the environment. He did make connections with some people but still didn’t feel belonged which is seen in the third stanza, “caught the 414 bus like a foreign tourist, unsure of their destination each time they got off.” This implies that day in and day out he caught the same bus for eight years strikingly captures his lack of understand, acceptance and connection to St Pat’s. Hence, through “St Pat’s”, it is clearly shown that if you don’t accept belonging to an environment you can’t form relationships.
When an individual faces an experience where they are isolated from a group belonging can’t occur. This is seen through the picture book The Island; Armin Greder explores how isolation or alienation can affect an individual’s sense of belonging. This is seen through opening 1, “he wasn’t like them;” The tone and the use of juxtaposition imply that the man doesn’t belong on the island because there is hardly anything behind him. The transience of this phrase works to have a larger impact on the audience that forwards their sympathy for the man rather than the islanders. Additionally, in opening 4,”so they took him in.” the use of juxtaposition shows how a lack of understanding can cause people to isolate an individual. This represents that they accepted him but the islanders are following right behind him with pitchforks and other weapons showing that they don’t understand him and they don’t want him to be with them. Lastly, in opening 10, a villager says, “He is a stranger, He doesn’t belong.”. The tone and literal statement conveys a sad and depressing mood which causes a further understanding of the islander’s attitude in creating barriers to prevent the man from connecting with them. Thus, it is visible that an individual that faces experiences where they are isolated from others can’t find a sense of belonging.
It is undeniable that Skryznecki and Greder explore the factors which affect an individual’s perception on relationships with others and the environment, which is one of the major factors. He clearly highlights how a sense of belonging is essentially relied on the relationships that are formed. In conclusion, through this poem, Skrzynecki and Greder emphasises on how a need to belong is an integral component of all individuals. An individual’s sense of belonging is relied on the relationships they form within their lifetime.