English Essay

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Belonging is the connection between individuals and people, places or the world at large. It is a fundamental human need that provides stability and empowerment. Acceptance within and Understanding of one’s environment are two powerful influences, which can impact on an individual’s ability to achieve a sense of belonging. ‘Migrant Hostel’ and ’10 Mary Street’ from Peter Skrzynecki’s anthology of poetry Immigrant Chronicle explore these influences through his own life experiences as an immigrant moving to Australia after the second World War. Skrzynecki’s poems portray the difficulties experienced by many of the Australia’s migrant population with assimilating into a new and unwelcoming environment. A Dirty Word, an allegorical short story about racism by Debbie Hodgson, also explores similar ideas. When an individual is not accepted in a new environment it can create feelings of instability and uncertainty, which influences their ability to achieve a sense of connectedness. Skrzynecki’s ‘Migrant Hostel’ explores the feelings of disconnection and alienation experienced by the migrants when placed into hostels away from the rest of society, after arriving in Australia. “No one kept count, of all the comings and goings-“ creates a sense of environment filled with uncertainty. The caesura encourages the reader to reflect on this unstable situation and feel empathy for the migrants at this time. The tone adopted in the poem is quite bleak, reflecting a sense of dislocation and powerlessness “sudden departures…that left us wondering”. Likening the migrants struggle to connect and gain acceptance within their new environment to ‘birds of passage’ creates an evocative image of the unsettling reality of their situation of being between two worlds and not belonging “unaware of the season”. The personification of the “barrier at the main gate” as it is “pointed in reprimand”

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