The concepts of belonging are primarily come from attachment with communities and individuals. In the novel “swallow the air” (Tara June Winch 2006) and the movie “Rabbit-Proof Fence” (Phillip Noyce 2002), authors use various language and visual techniques apply to writing and visual cohesion such as symbolism, motif, quotes and cycle to tell similar story about “the stolen generation”. “Rabbit-Proof Fence” tells a true story of two Aboriginal sisters Molly and Daisy and their cousin Daisy. The girls were forcibly removed from their family in Jigalong and taken to the Moore River camp.
Similarly, May left her Aunty in “swallow the air” and start a tour for seeking her roots. First of all, the close bonding to family is the main belonging to the two protagonists. In “Rabbit Proof Fence”, family is the main factor which drives the story and bookends the whole film by the hunting scene and reunion scene. Just like in “swallow the air”, scenes with mother in the first chapter and the last chapter “home” forms a cycle. People have “roots” if they have family or belong to a community.
Moreover, in “Rabbit-proof Fence” when the totem hawk first appears in high angle shot, Maude says “That’s the spirit bird, he will always look after you. ” Close relationship shown here by both the quote and mother’s arm around Molly, fixing her hair, with satisfaction on her face in close-up shot. The scene highlights the strong bonding in this blood kinship. Correspondingly, the turtle Mungi which reborn and gain its new belonging without being disturbed connects May to her mother to reinforce the solidity of mother-daughter bond.
When her mother dies, May loses not only love and affection form mother but also her sense of belonging to Aboriginal culture and even to the world, shown through “but when Mum left, I stopped being Aboriginal. I stopped feeling like I belonged. ” Repetition emphasis May’s not belonging at that moment or how her belongings were all connect through her mother before. Obviously, relationships form the sense of attachment between people and community.
In scene 57 of “Rabbit-proof fence”, the harsh journey has become very significant indeed it shows the struggle and hardship associated with Molly’s determine of going back to mother with the only left sibling. The close-up shot of Molly uses a plant to access water in a seemingly barren place reinforces her belonging to the land and also the Aboriginal heritage. Moreover, the reverse shots of two girls who lose consciousness, Maude and Frinda are sitting by the fence, singing and beating sticks to aid the girl’s journey and add great faith to Molly, the hawk wake them up by cawing is a symbol of strength in their community.
Those factors emphasis that the inherent combination between individuals, family and their culture which gives them belief and faith. Meanwhile, in “swallow the air” there are also some non-family who gives May warm and hope. Joyce, Jonny and Issy are the three non-families May feels attach with from the communities “The Block” and “Wiradjuri”, the connections shown through their dialogue and the deeper communication. From “We are all family here, all black here, from different place, but we’re all one mob here. The use of “we” reveals inclusion and cohesion between everyone in the Block and absolute words shows not only uniformity but also unite.
In addition, Joyce offers the material safety and warmth, she is also the one convinces May that she will not fins true belonging until she reconnect with mother’s people with rhetorical question “Think about it, May Gibson. Who are the Gibson mob anyway? ” to triggers May’s thinking about her identity. Moreover, Joyce’s son Jonny become May’s best friend, their connection is strengthened through similar dreaming places and motif of flora, fire, water and family. We dance with palm branches and deri flowers, like we are spirit peple. We rest in the house as warm tropical storm light up the bruised sky……” the vivid images from by the verbs with present tense, the nature and wordings like “warm” “light” “spirit” “dance” have positive connotation, it means their dream life are full of happiness although the outside world is nasty— “the bruised sky” with the use of metaphor. To the Aboriginal community, motif and totem are symbols of spirit that is a kind of belief and support and the spirit connects their fellows together.
In “Rabbit Proof Fence”, motif of hands appears as gesture, signal or show contact of relationship, such as Molly signals hunter in order to obtain food as special trait understanding between Aborigines. The mid-angle shot of Maude stands with hands on fence and eyes toward distant place then camera reverse to Molly put her hands on the other side of fence, with soft and lyric background music; both the motif of hands shows attachment just like the rabbit proof fence symbolizes their affinity, connects Molly to her mother and extent towards Jigalong physically and mentally. On the other hand, the otif of water is unique to the Wiradjuri nation.
Here water is strength and lifeblood. “We are powerful people, strong people. Water people, people of the rivers and the lakes. ” The symbolism of water has a universal undertone of purity and fertility. Symbolically, it is often viewed as the source of life itself as we see evidence in countless myths. To Wiradjuri people, water is a strong spirit lodge which suggested by the above quote. Further, we can incorporate symbolism of circulation, life, cohesion and birth by associating the creative waters of the earth with the fluids found in our own body.
Just like what Issy says “the lake works like a heart, pumping its lifeblood from under the skin”, simile use to compare and visualized the usefulness of water and gratitude to this source of lives. Issy’s circles explain Aboriginal peoples’ belonging to each other and the land. In conclusion, to Aborigines belonging and identity shaped by their Aboriginal heritage and the way they know the world from their ancestors, besides that family are integrated and primary to most people which is the symbol of spirit home.
“A sense of belonging comes from having connections with people and place”/ Compare how the texts you have studied convey these ideas. Who am I? Where do I belong? ‘A person’s identity is shaped by their sense of belonging and/or not belonging’. This concept is clearly explored in the touching movie “Rabbit proof fence” of three girls running away to find way home, to where they belong to. Whereas, Peter Skrzynecki’s poems “Postcard” and “10 Marry Street” focus on the self-awareness and conflicts inside the author as he tries to find his identity and belonging through a postcard and his old house. “Rabbit- Proof Fence” is a 2002 Australian drama film directed by Phillip Noyce. The true story is set in 1931, about three aboriginal girls forced to leave their families in Jigalong as they are half caste children to be trained in the domestic ways of modern civilization. The film explores aspects of both belonging and not belonging in telling the story of these Aboriginal girls. Throughout Phillip Noyce’s “Rabbit Proof Fence”, Molly has a strong sense of connection to the land and to her family. As she says at the beginning, “Our people, the Jigalong mob, we were desert people then, walking all over our land”; it clearly shows where she feels she belonged. But her words “The white people”, shows her opposite feeling as she has no sense of belonging to white society.
Young Molly is told by her mother about a significant figure of her culture, the spirit eagle which symbolises the totem of her community and the connection to her ancestor. The image of the family playing and hunting together in the opening scene is one of unity, support and protection. Unfortunately, Molly’s family is soon separated as the children are sent thousands of miles away. The scene when the children are taken by the police is extremely dramatic and intense. The sense of loss is made greater by the screaming of the children and mother, her repeating the word “mine” showing her ownership of her children and the frenzied feeling created through hand-held camera work. The children’s new home at Moore River is so unfamiliar and is juxtaposed with the natural world of their bushland home. The image of Molly, her sister and her cousin sleeping together in the same bed focuses our attention on their need to feel secure and protected. They are forced to speak English, and their language was thought “wangka”, “jabber”.
The girls are taught to give up their culture and their language to learn the white culture which is completely strange to them. The enticements of the white people, “You’ll feel quite at home in this new world” does not attract Molly and even makes her sick. The climax is when Molly decides to escape from Moore River. They walked 1500 miles along the longest fence in the world being hunted by Constable Briggs and an Aboriginal tracker. The fence in the movie represents a symbol of the way to their home. When they grip the fence, the film juxtaposes image of their mother also gripping the fence, and a close-up shot of their smiles reveal their joy of being connected by beautiful emotional music. Molly and her sister then continue their long journey home overcoming many obstacles to be finally reunited with their family. The slow motion image of the mother crying, hugging the kids emphasises the significance of their need to belong and the strong connection to family. The movie would not have a happy end as Molly is then taken away after she gets home, but it cannot stop her from running away all her life to be where she belongs.
If “Rabbit-Proof Fence” leaves the audiences beautiful images of a family’s strong connection and the desire to belong to a real home, the poem ‘Postcard’ by Peter Shrzynecki explores the concept of belonging on the persona’s sense of cultural identity. It is a postcard that the author received, which depicts the city of Warsaw in Poland, his homeland. However he does not feel the same sense of connection to his homeland that his father feels, but rather feels alienated and disengaged. The negative connotations of the verb “Haunts” and its position on a line by itself highlight the persona’s unease and uncertain connection to the place. This contrasts his friend’s perception that his parents will react positively to this postcard, feeling a sense of connection to it: “he requests I show it to my parents.” The separation of “I” and his parents on a separate line suggests their different perceptions to the postcard. The poet described the picture in the postcard without enthusiasm, from the “Red buses” to “The River and its concrete pylons and the sky’s brightest shade”.
The colours in the post card are unnatural and his unfamiliarity with Warsaw is emphasised when he cannot tell whether something is a park. Skrzynecki however, is stuck by the moment. The usage of personification gives the effect of the poet’s conversation with Warsaw, “I never knew you”, which is his direct refusing of relation to the place. The following “Except in the third person” emphasises the poet’s sheer distance and detachment in his life from the city. Contrast to Skrzynecki’s negative to the city, his parents and their friend as “dying generation” are continuing the attachment to the city with a strong sense of belonging. They “shelter”, “defend”… Despite living in a new city, these older migrants find a sense of collective belonging in reminiscing about their “Old Town”. The persona clearly distances himself from this, separated through the distinction made between the pronouns, “I” and “They”. The author then confronts the conflict which lies in the rhetorical question “What’s my choice to be?” as his parents will be proud and speak of their “Beloved Ukraine”.
The poet recognises the city’s offers but concludes that he cannot give it more than “eyesight” and “praise” and his response will not come from his heart. Yet, it then ends with a tone of desperation as he asks, “What more do you want besides the gift of despair?” Which reinforces the poet’s conflict to acknowledge his connection and loss with the city. The use of direct speech: “A lone tree whispers, we will meet before you die” personifies Poland and suggests it is calling him home. It is a prophecy that he must visit Poland in order to understand his identity. The reason he could not yet belong to Australia is simply because he did not understand his original heritage. For Skrzynecki, to belong to Australia he must first belong to, and understand Poland by visiting it and giving in to its calling. The experiences of belonging on the other hand, are often initiated at birth within family, as it is the first group an individual becomes a part of. “10 Mary Street” is the address of Shrzynecki’s family, and the poem that conveys with insight into the concept of familial bonds, and our instinctive choice to belong in the home.
The sense of the comfort is established in the beginning of the poem with the simile ‘A well-oiled lock’ indicates the positive image of the Skrzynecki household going through the sense of ownership and security it provides. The ‘Nineteen years’ also adds a depth to this and expresses the sense of belonging Skrzynecki felt to the place. Plus the repeat of the pronoun ‘We’ emphasises their togetherness and belonging to each other. In another simile, ‘ ravage the backyard garden like a hungry bird…’, Skrzynecki compares his early boyhood days of hunger after school with a young bird in the nest revealing the delights of the family’s vegetable garden and it creates an image of comfort, security and familiarity. The garden is an important aspect of their lives where the poet’s parent “watered plants- grew potatoes… like adopted children’, stressing their strong connection to their home. The positive images ‘For nineteen years, we lived together’, and later of “visitors” sharing their common interests, ‘discussions’, ’embracing gesture’ present their home as a trusted site of the liveliness and friendliness. Contrasting to the warmth and security inside, outside of the house with “its china-blue coat”, represents a refugee for them, and an unwelcoming culture into which the family must go, but do not really belong.
Once again there was a barrier, the “still too-narrow bridge” that separated the two worlds. Besides giving them a haven from nature, the enclosed space gives them a chance to preserve a private life and include their past life in “pre-war Europe”. ‘For nineteen years’, Skrzynecki ‘lived’ his Australian life style while his parents ‘kept prewar Europe alive with photographs and letters’. This juxtaposition portrays the adopted nature of the home for his parents as a refugee, and for the persona as a home. The immigrant family’s naturalisation into Australian society is described as becoming “citizens of the soil”. This metaphor creates a feeling of being connected as Skrzynecki’s family accepted and became a part of the land.
Throughout the poem is tone of positive feeling and contented. The family’s only regret is leaving the home. In essence, belonging is a fundamental aspect of an individual’s life and one should make as many positive interactions with others in order to enrich their experience of this essential human need. Peter Skrzynecki’s “Post Card” extensively explores that the sense of belonging if is undefined can “haunt” a person their entire life. This is contrasted with the idea that positive interactions of an individual to a group or their family as is highlighted in the film “Rabbit-Proof Fence” and especially in Peter Skrzynecki’s “10 Marry Street”, as the members of the Skrzynecki family feel an enriched sense of belonging to one another.