Belonging is a perception, it is an opinion held by an individual who is dependent upon someone belongs or does not belong. A sense of belonging emerges from the connections made by people, places, communities and the larger world, and can easily shapes by one’s acceptance and understanding. This is recognised in ‘Migrant Hostel’, a poem by Peter Skrzynecki, ‘Billy Elliot’ a film by Stephen Daldry.
‘Migrant Hostel’, by Skrzynecki, is set after the Second World War, where European migrants were brought into Australia by the government intentionally to increase both the population and workforce, bringing new skills to expand the Australian economy.
Perhaps, the context itself has already conveyed a sense much farther than just, looking at why Europeans are in Australia? The poem creates confusion to one, as opposed to whether they belong or not in this migrant hostel. Skrzynecki emphasises on these two different feelings by contrasting a family’s sense of belonging and how they belong to the Australian society.
The juxtaposition between the ‘comings and gongs’, ‘arrivals’ and ‘departures’ creates a sense of instability and insubstantiality. The constant change of his ‘migrant hostel’ home within two years, prevents Skrzynecki finding his sense of belonging, leaving him feeling alienated and confused about his judgement of self in belonging to a community.
‘Busloads’ of ‘arrivals of newcomers’ with ‘sudden departures’ left these migrants wondering ‘who would be coming next. Skrzynecki creates an impersonal tone as he recounts this by the use of collective nouns. This indicates a lack of individuality, and with the use of sensory imagery, these phrases emphasise a tone of being grouped together, provoking conformity and appreciation. The migrants have been portrayed as belonging to a hostel, which provides a prison-like life, making them share the same despair, confusion, isolation and frustration.
The contrasting sense of the migrants belonging to a group, and...