If you didn’t repeat year11 you have to do the same thing as I’m doing right now, which is a letter about the area of study – belonging. Probably you are enjoying year11 while I am suffering year12; I have tons of assignments due next few weeks. I’m writing this letter to you because I know you would ask me for all the year12 assessments at the end of the year also this will help you with the topic, identity which is part of belonging.
First I will give you an idea of what belonging is.
Belonging is a sense of comfort and contentment when an individual gains an understanding of themselves in relation to others. However when individual is excluded from a group or community is call alienation and rejection. It is important for one to belong; it can prevent alienation and isolation which can lead to severe emotional and psychological problem. From texts a responder may experience and understand the possibilities presented by a sense of belonging to or exclusion from the text and the world it represents.
From different points of view the perception might be different. For example some of the students belong outside of school because of their classmates may be isolating or bully them. Whereas the teacher thinks they should belong to school, community and study for the HSC.
I have chosen three different types of related texts for this Assessment task [Area of Study – Belonging] : the advertisement “how easy is it to forget” produced by BERNAS depicts a typical Chinese family and how the individuals belong within the family. The film “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” directed by Kenneth Branagh examines rejection and alienation of Victor’s creature from society due its shocking appearance; similarly the picture book “Refugees” by David Miller uses ducks to represent the experience of refugees who have been alienated from a place.
In the advertisement “How easy is it to forget”, Bernas shows how one’s perception of their family can be modified over time by the shared experiences and barriers which they have fought to overcome as a group, enriching and strengthening the connection between members such as the father and son. The advertisement is about the son disobeying his Chinese tradition and ending up in a flight with his father resulting in him leaving home. Although he became paraplegic due to an accident at work; but his father helped and taught him how to walk when he was helpless and he returned to his family with a stronger bond than before. The advertisement is to gain support for less fortunate families and people.
An individual’s sense of belonging is influenced by their choices and actions. At the beginning scene the son is leaving his family with his mother crying behind him trying to persuade him not to leave. Belonging to a group is a choice we make and the son clearly makes a decision to leave the family, which shows the barrier he creates between his family. In the flash back illustrate the event that lead to what happened at the opening scene. The son displays no interest in the family traditions and conveys no respect towards the father as shown by the father’s disapproving facial expression. During the dinner the son eats first rather than his father, in Chinese culture that elders eat first is to show respect. Another example is when the son changes the channel that his father was watching, the disconnection between the father and the son has been represented through the use of facial expressions and attitudes displayed by father and son.
This is achieved by the camera alternating with a close up from the son and the father’s disapproving facial expression. This disconnection creates a barrier between them caused by the son’s decision and actions. The breakdown of their relationship has been symbolized by the shattering of the bowl of rice. In Chinese culture a meal is where a family connects and deepens the mutual understanding with each other, strengthening the bond within the family. “You might as well not come home!” shows how the son’s choices have pushed these bonds and created conflicts within this family, furthermore it creates greater barriers for them to overcome. However overcoming these barriers to belonging can enrich one’s sense of belonging because they gain an understanding of themselves in their family.
The need to belong to a group or a community shapes our behavior, attitudes and actions. After the son left his family he suffered a devastating accident at work which leaves him unable to use both legs. In hospital he isolates himself and rejects all offers of help from his family. Although the son had broken the bonds between them, his father stood outside of his room crying because he assumed responsibility for his son suffering. His father chooses to help his son recover physically and moreover importantly mentally. It shows in the next scene with the father carrying his son on this back, trying to move his legs and teach him how to walk again!
A flash back was used to contrast when the son was young and his father was teaching him how to walk which shows no matter how bad the family’s bond may be broken, it can be mended. In the final scene it shows the son can walk again at dinner time; a flash back was used to show his father helping him to walk at morning and night. This shows the bond between him and his family has been recovered or are even stronger. The recurring motif at the meal is used throughout the advertisement to encapsulate the bonds and relationship between the son and his family no matter how much the bond between family members have been shattered, it will always repair depending on the family members’ attitudes, decisions and actions.
The first text was interesting, isn’t it? The second text is the film “Mary’s Shelly Frankenstein” directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is based on an adaptation of Mary’s novel “Frankenstein” written in 1815 and published in London in 1818. It is based on a science friction story about Victor Frankenstein created a creature with no identity; due to his shocking appearance which creates barriers to belong. The creature turned evil by rejection of society and he started to take revenge on his father Victor Frankenstein’s family.
In this film several aspects of belonging have been conveyed, a sense of not belonging can emerge from the disconnections made with people, places or the world. The creature Victor Frankenstein created him and does not know how to walk, eat, talk, etc; Victor tries to help the creature in the first place because he thought he had successfully finished the experiment of creating a new life. When Victor saw the creature appearance is different to human, he was scared, surprised and realized with horror that he had done something wrong against human nature. This is demonstrated by a close up to show his facial expression and the dramatic music. The disconnection has been conveyed by Victor trying to escape from the lab leaving the creature behind and taking no responsibly for what he had created. This is an important scene because it leads to the creature being rejected and isolated from human societies. This disconnection influenced him to find his new identity and where to belong.
To truly belong to can take a lifetime and can often never be achieved, but to become isolated or alienated is often easy. The next scene started with the creature covering his head to hide his appearance from people, the director used high angle shot to show the people are buying and selling in the street while the creature is trying to steal food from the shop. This shows the creature wanted to belong to the human society and desired the human’s acceptance.
However his hideous appearance was revealed when he got caught stealing, and rejected him and chased him away. The director used low angle shot when the people gather around the creature, which shows the creature was way more powerful physically than humans. Medium shot was also used to show the human’s emotion when a human attacked the creature and in his rage he threw the human to the wall. This horrified the people and became the catalyst of human rejection from the creature. The creature has being rejected and alienated from society which creates more barriers for him. An individual not accepted by society can result in a change of the individual’s actions and decisions which can be devastating for all concerned. This is what happened to victor’s creature.
One’s identity is the key to belonging anywhere. The creature continued to find his identity, he learnt who and how he was created and then deserted, and moreover he started to take revenge on Victor because he didn’t belong to the world. In the ice cave scene the creature had a conversation with Victor, which shows the creature had intelligence and emotions. The director use of a low angle shot shows the power of the creature and his superiority. The creature struggles to find his identity which is conveyed by the dialogue “Who am I?” During the conversation, the music changed to dramatic music emphasizing that barriers to belonging can change a good person to evil; it is shown by “Two people are dead now, because of us.”
The close up between the creature and Victor to show their emotion which conveys how serious the problem of belonging is and the importance of having an identity. At the end of the film; when Victor dies the creature burnt himself next to Victor’s dead body. He knew that he had no future, “Who are you?” the captain asked, “He never gave me a name”, the creature replied. Without belonging life is meaningless, although the creature’s searching to belong and to be accepted by society. The barriers causing his isolation and alienation are too great to overcome, ending a dying with his father Victor. This conveys a sense of belonging comes from a sense of identity.
The third text is a picture book Refugees by David Miller. The text illustrates the adventure of pair of wild ducks whose habitat has been destroyed when their swamp is dug up and they have to find a safe place to live. The difficult and dangerous journey they undertake seems futile. As they try they were unable to settle in various different environments. These locations included the ocean, busy river port and a swap/hunting ground. They are close to exhaustion when the intervention of an unknown person changes their fate. This text explores the idea that the process of migration can be a discriminatory experience, alienating, confusing and leading to the search for acceptance and sense of belonging. This text is an example of an allegory, a story on two levels. The ducks represent human immigrants and the problems they face.
The process of migration is disorientating when the homes of two ducks are destroyed by machinery and they must migrate to find a new home. This is shown in “Now the swamp and island were gone forever. The ducks would have to find another place to live.” A lack of belonging felt by an individual can be caused by difficulties such as environment, government etc. This leads an individual to embark on a journey in search for a sense of belonging or acceptance from new environment. The environment is harsh, difficult and dangerous during the migrations. This is depicted by the visual techniques used by the illustrator where the swamp at the beginning is blue and green colours representing safety and calmness.
On the other hand next few pages show the colour is black and from the text “find food and a safe place to sleep” shows the dangerous and frustration during migrating. Risks and challenges have been faced by the ducks during their search for acceptance, “At last, very tired, they came to the sea. But the waves were frightening, the water was salty, and they couldn’t find any food” (what is the effect). Rejection and alienation also experienced by the ducks are depicted by the picture of two ducks forced to swim into the waves with the seagulls giving them aggressive looks. It shows the difficulty of acceptance from others.
The illustrator used a boat to demonstrate the trip of their journey and with a wall beside it which symbolized obstructs during migrating. Although the connection or relation between both of these ducks is strong, they belong to each other no matter where they are illustrated through “Two tired little ducks slept on a small, bobbing boat.” The desire to belong is shown by the two ducks when they try to find a place that accepts them is shown by using repetition of the word “flew”. The alienation and rejection is not only shown by other animals, these two ducks also experience alienation from humans shown by the use of visual techniques employed by the illustrator, it shows how the two ducks are powerless in the emptiness of the sky with humans shooting at them and the text “Hidden hunters fired cruel guns.”
At the end humans reach out hands to help them to find a place where they can belong and the two ducks find a new place with this help and adapt to a new home which they have finding and longing for. It is convey through the text “At last they were set free on a lake where tall reeds rustled, frogs croaked, clouds of insects buzzed and swallows flitted restlessly over the clear water.” Similar colour as the first page where their old home was has been used to convey belonging to a place can make you safe and comfort. All these techniques used to demonstrate the process of immigration and convey the search for acceptance and sense of belonging.
In conclusion belonging is a sense of comfort and contentment when an individual gains an understanding of in relation to family, groups and community. However sense of not belonging is an exclusion and rejection from groups or society. Without belonging life is meaningless thus people continue to search a place to belong even they were alienated. An immigrant like me and you had experienced exclusion and rejection because of our lack of communication skill and different cultural in a new country. But at the end we found a place where we belong to and the acceptance by other people as a new immigrant. These problems were faced in “Refugees” which is an extended metaphor of the two ducks that had experienced after leaving home and being a new immigrant.
There are the three texts I have chosen, I hope you get an idea of what I did there and hope you can improve your shifty reading skill. You can send me your copy if you pass year 11 this year.