Analysis of “Feliks Skrzynecki”
The poem explores the relationship between the poet and his father and their contrasting experiences of belonging in a new land Point: the poem opens with a positive description of Peter Skrzynecki’s father and his detachment from the consumer competitiveness of his neighbours. His home is the garden Example: “gentle” “ten times around the world” Technique: positive description, hyperbole Effect: hyperbole creates a sense of his belonging in this setting as he chooses to stay within its boundaries.His experience of displacement (after war) has led to his chosen state of positive isolation in a secure place (his comfort zone) Point: evidence of his hard labour in the garden is highlighted in his body, yet it is clear that his work is a labour of love Example: his hands “darkened” by cement; his fingers “with cracks”; his arms over exerted through turning soil and rolling tobacco Technique: highlighted Example: “forced labour in Germany” Technique: contrastedEffect: he chooses to work in this hard setting, because of his sense of belonging in his garden Point: the reader becomes to see Feliks Polish friends as further sources of acceptance and belonging for Feliks Example: reminiscing about fertile farms (“flowered”) and animals (“bred”) in their native Poland Technique: share memories, positive connotations of the verbs Effect: suggest the immigrants shared nostalgia springing from their common experiences Point: in contrast to the friends’ sense of belonging when reminiscing, Peter finds their speech and actions alienating Example: shake hands “too violently”, never gets used to the “formal address” by which they greet his father Technique: Negative connotations Effect: heighten the sense of Peter’s discomfort in this situation.This feeling of alienation signals the beginning of Peter’s movement from his polish heritage as a young person, but also the natural movement of a child away from their parents as they grow up Point: Peter’s difference from his father in the face of discomfort is highlighted Example: his father has endured the suffering of “five years forced labour” without allowing “the softness of his blue eyes” to be dulled, “dug” “but I’m alive” Technique: connotations of Peter’s description of his father, painful connotations of the verb “dug” highlight Felik’s stoicism Effect: suggests the strength of the character in refusing to be discouraged by external circumstances.His identity is firmly established as brave and resilient in the face of many obstacles. Contrasts Peter’s later reflections on his shifting identity Point: Feliks firm sense of identity is contrasted between Peter’s anxiety about his identity Example: peter describes how he realised he unconsciously remembered parts of the polish language as he grew older “Remnants of a language/ I inherited unknowingly” Technique: contrasted, enjambment, describes Effect: highlights Peter’s lack of involvement in his cultural inheritance and his consequent lack of belonging in this domain Example: Peter Skrzynecki remembers his father’s “a curse that dammed/ A crew cut, grey haired/ Department clerk” Technique: unflattering descriptionEffect: conveys Peter’s scorn of this man’s prejudice and justifies Felik’s decision to live in an isolated world where he is comfortable Point: an image of peace, security and belonging is presents in the descriptions of Feliks in his garden Example: “My father sits out in the evening/ With his dog, smoking/ watching stars and street lights come on” Technique: a harmonious atmosphere is created through the accumulation of positive images Point: Feliks’ self-sufficiency and contentment contrasts to Peter’s discontent Example: “happy as I have ever been” Technique: contrasts, ironic Effect: ironic considering Feliks life has been more difficult.
Feliks capacity to enjoy a sense of belonging has come through his experiences of suffering. His mind has been broadened to understanding what really matters n life Point: the focus on Feliks shifts to Peter’s lack of belonging in the realm of his heritage Example: “forgot his first Polish word,” and then pegged his “tents/ further and further south of Hadrians Wall.