Romulus My Father + Ort – Belonging

“What are the most powerful influences that impact on an individual’s sense of belonging? Belonging is a concept of fitting in to a group, place or team. Belonging to place, identity, relationships and barriers are significant influences impacting on belonging in both the memoir Romulus, My father and a similar text in the poem Katrina by Bruce Dawe. The prescribed and related texts effectively demonstrate the importance of how integral a sense of belonging is to human existence and the impact it can have on one’s life.

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Belonging to place is a theme highly evident throughout the novel Romulus, My Father placing a high level of significance on Romulus and his family. Australians icons are highlighted throughout the text to put emphasis on the idea of belonging to place. “A dead red gum stood only a hundred metres from the house and became for my mother a symbol of her desolation”, the use of symbolism to represent the challenge of immigrating of Australia is effective in underlining the idea of place.

This idea is a recurring motif throughout the text, the vastness of the landscape seems impersonal and uncaring to the eyes of the outsider, especially to Christine where it stood as a symbol of her isolation. * There is always a recurring notion that Raimond doesn’t belong as a child as he is constantly being moved around yet he seems to find solace at Frogmore and never worries about its deterioration even when he returns from boarding school. This is evident in his detailed description of the life at Frogmore and the greater attention paid to it over his life at St Kilda.

The close attention to word choice in the line “…Tom lived with his wife Mary and her sister, Miss Jane Collard”, focuses on his connection with Miss Lillie. The informal language used when describing the name of Miss Lillie as Mary compared to Miss Jane highlights Raimond’s connection with Miss Lillie helped him find a connection within the life at Frogmore and in turn a sense of belonging. In Romulus, My Father, focus is placed on several different foundations for which our identity, and in turn our sense of belonging, is formed. An ndividual’s sense of self or identity is affected by his or her belonging to their community and its physical surroundings. Being an immigrant, Romulus gains recognition and respect by proving his value through hard work. Gaita uses personification in “his materials…seemed to be in friendship with him” to highlight the bond that exists between Romulus and his work, therefore stressing the significance of how influential identity is to his character. * * Romulus prides his identity on honesty, loyalty and respect of others. Raimond’s choice to take the aftershave, and deny any transgression, contradicts his father’s life philosophy.

The rebelling of Raimond isn’t what made Romulus angry; it was the refusal to confess to his wrongdoing that infuriates him. “His anger grew till he could barely speak”. We witness a similar act where he disposes of the broken razor in the dam and denies any role in the misplacing of the razor. The use of a metaphor in “rigorous truthfulness could give a person the inner unity necessary for strength of character” is demonstrating what I perceive to be the anxiousness of Romulus that Raimond is adopting qualities of his mother.

Its not until later in the novel that Raimond realises of his wrongdoing “I know what a good workman is; I know what an honest man is; I know what friendship is; I know because I remember these things in the person of my father”. * * Relationships possess great significance in Romulus, My Father. The relationship between Raimond’s parents Romulus and Christine is very fragmented, to which he describes the relationship as “intense and fraught”.

The use of a metaphor in “Such was the rollercoaster of wild emotion at the time” is effective in highlighting the elevated emotional levels of the period, such as Romulus’s attempted suicide due to Christine leaving him. Christine’s infidelity is further exemplified with Gaita’s use of strong word choice in “My father must have been heartbroken by his unfathomable, troubled, vivacious…” to emphasise on the unfaithfulness Christine. * * The relationship between Raimond and his mother is another fragmented family relationship.

His mother’s inability of catering to his simple needs such as feeding and bathing are factors of why the relationship is so disjointed. This is highlighted with Gaita’s word choice “…incapable of taking care of me, ignoring my elementary needs…” the word elementary highlights the fact that the basic things in which should be found in a mother are not found in Christine and her inability to cater for Raimond and later Susan and Barbara. However Raimond feels his “mothers neglect of me was more then compensated for by her family”. * Barriers influence both Romulus and Christine to a great extent in the transition from Europe to Australia.

Christine’s bad asthmatic illness leaves her with an inevitable decision, to immigrate to Australia in order to improve her health. However moving to Australia affects her health on a considerably deeper level mentally. Christine’s isolation, alienation and displacement affect her mentally to the point she can barely function. Her decline leads her to receive electric shock treatment that didn’t help in relieving her hallucinations. The use of alliteration in “ …serious attack of asthma after she brought Raimond…” highlights the pinnacle reason for her decline and unhappy life before choosing to end it with an overdose on drugs. * When first immigrating to Australia Romulus faces the barrier of language and communication with others. This barrier prevented belonging into the new society of Australia, until Romulus returned to the camp and connected with the Romanian brothers Hora and Mitru. Gaita’s use of an aside helps the audience to connect with the story and understand difficulty for “New Australian’s” to converse without language, therefore highlighting the impact on the influences of barriers in relation to belonging. * Correspondingly in Katrina by Bruce Dawe, belonging to place as well as family is also an influence on Katrina’s sense of belonging. Her vulnerability is intensified by the common notion that she is alone in an unwelcoming environment, watched over in “Ward Fifteen” by a nameless “Nurse”. The use of Rhetorical question in “Opening again or closing finally? ” further underlines Katrina’s defenselessness to “the black velvet of death threatening” against her life. The comparison is evident in the late stages of Romulus, My Father as Raimond watches as a helpless bystander o the death of his father. * * Similarly to Romulus, My father, identity is also explored with significance to belonging in Katrina. Her identity is clearly established as a member of the family in the beginning of the poem. The use of her first name, forces readers to accept and know her as an individual, intensifying the power of the poem. This also gives valuable insight to life as well as providing somewhat personal comfort the confronting the full situation. * * The identity of the father figure is also apparent in the poem.

He struggles cope with the fact that he may lose his daughter, and in a depressed and distressed stated he aims to call to God in prayer, but is unable to do so. The personified “black velvet of death threatening” is a symbol of his helpless wait as he watches the babies struggle for survival awaiting a final outcome. The contrast between her and her twin brother’s two-month-old health figure hurts him a deeper level as it indicates the ultimate frailty of the baby. * * The parental relationships in Katrina and Romulus, My Father both greatly impact belonging; however the relationships are very different.

The narrator’s love for Katrina is highlighted by the euphemism “The karate blow”, this violent image supports his claim that he is not ready to face the fact and lose the little girl. His love for Katrina is further emphasised through the use of a simile in “your life shines like a jewel”, painting an affectionate image of his value of her spirit. The relationship presents a connection to family as the daughter of two deeply distressed parents validating the importance of relationships and belonging. * * A barrier of health can be acknowledged in both the prescribed and related text.

Katrina’s health is a barrier preventing life. The vulnerability of her health condition is apparent through her illness. Her “body’s wasting”, living of food through a tube and lost the ability to maintain her dummy, that It must be taped in her mouth. The metaphor “you are suspended between earth and sky” is effective in describing her position in limbo, between life and death. The repetition of this line in the end of the poem, gives it a cyclic structure, beginning and ending with the concept of being “between the earth and the sky”.

The barrier of health in this circumstance is preventing Katrina from belonging to world of life, and forced between earth and heaven. * * The memoir Romulus, My father and a similar text in the poem Katrina by Bruce Dawe both effectively demonstrate the importance of how integral a sense of belonging is to human existence and the impact it can have on an individuals sense of belonging. They achieve this through focusing on influential aspects of belonging such as Belonging to place, identity, relationships and barriers. * *

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