Belonging Essay

8 August 2016

Welcome, today I will be speaking about the concept of belonging and how it is represented in the two texts Rainbows End by Jane Harrison and Beneath the Clouds by Ivan Sen. “A sense of identity, cultural heritage and family connection are the heart of true belonging” For me belonging is being accepted, respected and capable to adjust because of a connection strong enough that it is unbreakable. To achieve a sense of belonging you need a balance between knowing yourself (identity), understanding you cultural heritage and being able to connect with family.

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Belonging is where your heart wants to be. In Rainbows End and Beneath the Clouds we have our main characters who’ s identity, understanding of culture and family connection must improve to feel a true sense of belonging. What makes their journeys so great is the common necessity to belong. One aspect of belonging is identity. The people we know, the relationships we form, the worlds we live in and every encounter in our lives reflect who we are and also shape our identity.

Identity should also be shaped by our choices, values, beliefs, interests, family, appearance, habits, ethnicity and possessions however in my two texts Rainbows End and Beneath the Clouds our protagonists are presupposed and prejudged. In Rainbows End Nan Dear finds it difficult to belong to society, white society. She is discriminated against because of her aboriginal racial background. Despite all the racial behaviour Nan Dear the matriarch, and elder who, creates through hard work and resilience the home where the other two women find their sense of belonging.

While this home is not always physically safe is an emotional haven for the women. This shows her character and identity as well as her focus on purely the survival on the family. She shows that she is stable and belongs to her own people, the indigenous people. As well as the identity of Nan Dear and the way she gets judged, Dolly’s sense of identity is challenged when she tragically gets raped. In the text Beneath the Clouds we see the journey of two young aboriginal people, who are progressing through a stage of immense change in their lives.

Suffering racism, prejudice and alienation, the young people must break down barriers and lead a journey both physically but also inside themselves on a search of self identity. In this story a girl named Lena and leaves her hometown which she thinks is a”shithole” in search of her Irish Biological father and Vaughn a teenage ”screw-up” who breaks out of minimum security prison to reach his mother who is on her death bed and wished to see Vaughn for the first time in two years.

They both escape places where they don’t belong and looking for a place that they think will bring them a sense of belonging. This looks at the idea of place and how it can bring about a sense of belonging or not belonging. A common theme is the representation of prosperous Australian Society in contrast to Indigenous Deprivation. The lack of opportunity to gain prosperity is also part of the notion of belonging and not belonging. It increases the alienation from white mainstream Australia and the economic privileges associated with belonging.

Another important aspect of true belonging is culture. Culture refers to all values and beliefs we get from our ancestors and also the world we live in. Culture is very important to the indigenous people and they place a special importance on their land. The importance that the aboriginal people place on their land is show in Beneath the clouds through the wide open shots and the long camera shots. Without these images it would take way from the sense aboriginal culture.

These camera techniques as well as the sound effects (like the aboriginal music) help the audience view particular scenes in from a certain perspective. In contrast to Beneath the Clouds, in Rainbows End speaking styles are used to show their culture. The women throughout the text use Aboriginal English highlights to express their belonging to the aboriginal culture. In Rainbow’s End Nan Dear has played an important role in enhancing her family’s knowledge of their culture.

This is in contrast to Lena and Vaughn who don’t have any senior figures around to inform them about the proud history of the indigenous people. Nan Dear is wise and has lived through material and emotional hardship, experiencing hunger and sexual abuse and has witnessed the removal of aboriginal children from their mothers. This is a major factor that shapes her attitude, that aboriginal people will never achieve justice or equality. The stolen generation is a time in history that has given Aboriginal people a reason to resist change.

This attitude influences Gladys’s participation in white society and Dolly’s idea of her future. In Beneath the Clouds we feel that our characters Lena and Vaughn are trying to find their Nan Dear to help guide them and lead them through their lives. Lena and Vaughn are desperate to find any sense of belonging whereas Gladys’s and Dolly belong within their families. Culture along with identity is two major reasons why the two worlds of white Australia vs. Aboriginal Australia are evident.

The third aspect or part of belonging is family connection. Family connectedness is crucial in order to feel a sense of belonging in your life. Family are the people who make you who you are and are behind you regardless of what life throws at you. For the younger people in our two texts this is even more important as life as a child depends on the care, comfort and loving parents or without it our capacity to grow and develop could be limited. In Rainbow’s end and Beneath the Clouds we witness to different levels of family connectedness.

Nan Dear in Rainbows End keeps her family tight and shows the care, comfort and love that they need in contrast to Beneath the Clouds where family connectedness is still being searched for. Regardless of how you feel you belong to the community and the society, a connection with family is 100% more important. To conclude I would like you as the audience to ask yourselves these questions: 1. Is it fair that only some people struggle to find a sense of belonging? 2. Or does everyone struggle to find a sense of belonging at stages of their lives? 3 . Is belonging an individual perception?

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