Belonging Essays| The Skrzynecki Perspective

July 11, 2018 | GradeMiners
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If you are a literature student in Australia researching on belonging essays, you are probably familiar with the Peter Skrzynecki suite of poems detailing his family’s migration from war-torn Europe, his dealing with an unfamiliar culture and the journey to finally find himself beyond regional norms or cultural archetypes. Born to Polish and Ukrainian parents in Germany, Skrzynecki’s family fled Europe (to Australia) on an American navy-turned-transport ship, a 4-week journey christened “Crossing the Red Sea.” This expedition would influence a lot of his later works, the best known of which is the Immigrant Chronicles. The Chronicles are a collection of 48 poems all of which detail his family’s hardships in transit, and the pervading conflict for him to retain a Polish identity he knew little about, with an Australian culture that seemed completely foreign to him even after several years of residency.

Some of these poems include:

  • “Immigrants at Central Station, 1951.”
  • “Feliks Skrzynecki.”
  • “Crossing the Red Sea.”
  • “Migrant Hostel.”
  • “Post Card.”

While to some, the relevance of these poems to belonging essays might not be entirely clear, Skrzynecki’s work finds great application even in our own lives. Imagine leaving your old town or city for a new career or a new school, or making the transition from high school to college. There is always that primal instinct to find something that we identify with or a place that we belong. It might take a while to fit in, and the phase might even turn depressing. Belonging goes beyond just location. As Skrzynecki often elaborates, that even with his own Polish people present in Australia, he still struggled to identify himself with this native group and could also not find his place in the new age Australia.

A Deeper Look into the Skrzynecki Perspective

Humans are naturally social creatures, therefore the urge to belong to someone or something is as primal as they come. In belonging, you are free to be yourself, to share and to be liberated. It can be anything from a family, a team, a country or society. It has different meanings to different people; the subject may be different, but the instinct remains the same. Skrzynecki’s transcendence of different cultures, lifestyles, languages, education systems and even religious belief to some extent and his failure to find a sense of belonging in these different facets offers a glimpse at just how much we desire to reside in various aspects of our own lives. Connections are made in different ways, and our psyche is actually wired to look for these connections in new groupings.

The poem “Feliks Skrzynecki” depicts how an understanding of our own selves nourishes a sense of belonging regardless of time or distance. It would have been expected that Peter’s father having lived in Poland prior to the great crossing would have found it more difficult to assimilate into Australian culture. However, the writer says that his father is “happy as I have never been” implying something seemingly paradoxical to the reader. However, Feliks Skrzynecki has an already established sense of identity along with his fellow Polish migrants. This sense of belonging with his fellow migrants compared to the young Peter’s struggle to land a sense of identity demonstrates clearly how belonging might not necessarily be affected by the time-space spectrum. However, this isn’t to say that the nature of this psyche doesn’t change as new relationships are established. In fact, Peter might be implying that his father his averse to change and only masks this through his constant interaction with his fellow countrymen, as evidenced by the phrase “he kept pace only with the Joneses”.

In St. Patrick’s college, Peter says:

“Like a foreign tourist, uncertain of my destination,

Every time I got off, for 8 years.”

Peter is still struggling with a sense of identity and belonging and feels like a foreigner almost a decade after he joined the school. The alienation is growing deeper, and the writer is more than ever disconnected from his family, native culture and newfound country. He also shows a sarcastic attitude towards his mother when he implies that her own efforts to fit in with the new society are futile; “Impressed by the uniforms of her employer’s sons…” In the poem “Ancestors”, Peter battles with questions about his heritage, and how he fears to lose his connection to it.

What Does Belonging Mean To You?

Peter Skrzynecki doesn’t give an answer to what perfect belonging essays are, and neither does he attempt to impose his own understanding of the concept to others. Rather, he shows us that the concept cannot be boxed down and can have different meanings for different people. For him, it is a loss of cultural identity that holds the most significance to him, and he shows that even a new Catholic education or school doesn’t fill the gap.

This is similar to modern migrants fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East, struggling with the loss of cultural identity. The modern day American is more than ever detached, connections being what is offered by the media or the next fashion or tech trend to hit the market. Skrzynecki would probably give a glaring critique of this type of society, but would his assessment be any more right or wrong?

For belonging essays to stand out, the student has to have a good understanding of who they are and what community aspects are most important to them, regardless of time or space. It might be family for some, friends to others, or different activities such as sport or music to most.

With these insights, you can now tackle a belonging essay successfully. Alternatively, if you lack time, desire or writing skills, consult the experts at GradeMiners.com to produce a superb essay for you at some of the lowest costs. Worry not, your academic assignments will be in good hands.

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