Feliks Skrzynecki and Happy Feet Essay

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Perceptions of belonging or not belonging vary. This concept is explored in Peter Skryznecki’s Immigrant Chronicle in the poem, Feliks Skryznecki. Feliks and Peter have different perceptions of their belonging in Australia and the necessity of belonging in Australia. In my related text, the movie Happy Feet, directed by George Miller, Mumble finds his differences alienate him from his penguin society and he begins a search to find a sense of belonging. Feliks, Peter’s immigrant father is the main subject of the poem, but Peter himself also becomes the subject as their ways of creating their places in the world are compared. Feliks is ‘at home’ in the world he creates for himself. Both male figures, father and son, create the lines that define their worlds. Feliks walks the gardens perimeter and sweeps the paths – repeatedly over the years – ‘Ten times around the world’. At the end, though, the narrator is found ‘pegging my tents / further and further south of Hadrians Wall’. This is a metaphor of his disconnection to his Polish heritage. The narrator perceives the father and how he is comfortable in the world he has made – through immigration, hard work, and the life in which he is, at least, alive. Feliks inhabits both past and present. When Feliks is with ‘his Polish friends’ who ‘Always shook hands too violently’, the child feels excluded. The child belongs to the present and the future; the father has a past that the child can’t enter although it affects him. Feliks is part of his expatriate community – they share a language, Polish, and a way of addressing people formally – something ‘ I never got used to’. The garden and house he lives in, he attends to, nurtures ‘like an only child’. This simile serves to emphasise the strong connection Feliks has with his own place. The son goes to school, learns Latin, and forgets Polish – ‘I forgot my first Polish word’.

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