Significant moments in time have a profound impact upon individuals and their experiences which ultimately shapes their understanding and connections to places. The composer Peter Skrzynecki of ‘Immigrant Chronicles’ effectively denotes how individuals are directly influenced by barriers which needs to be overcome in order to belong. This concept is highly illustrated through the poem’s “St Patrick’s College” which explores the concept of barriers and isolation against the persona and “Migrant Hostel” whereby the significant place of a hostel shapes the understanding of an individual’s experiences towards belonging. This is further heightened through the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” which demonstrates key notions of how particular groups and individuals are subjected to barriers of isolation and being unable to connect to communities and places due to racism and stereotype. This sense of racism effectively shapes the understanding of the persona into overcoming these negative experiences in order to belong. Inevitably, it is through those significant moments and experiences that individual’s encounter and must overcome the barriers associated with these situations and places that individual’s are ultimately able to be shaped in understanding how to belong.

The poem “St Patrick’s College” clearly demonstrates how key notions of isolation and barriers impact upon the persona and his understanding of belonging. The persona has a lack of spiritual connection to the Catholic school of “St Patrick’s College” which reflects upon the significance of places and in this context, the persona is unable to belong due to the barriers this significant place upholds within his early life. This concept is effectively depicted through the simile “Like a foreign tourist, uncertain of my destination”. The simile heightens how the persona is subjected to isolation and detachment within his own sense of belonging and is ultimately made an outcast. This is further emphasised through the imagery in “For 8 years, I carried blue, black and gold, I’d been privileged to wear”. This contextualises how the persona’s lack of understanding of the school and it’s uniform has within the school community. Significantly, this experience within the persona’s early life has a clear lack of connection to the school community which inevitably denies his character into belonging with the environment around him.

To further illustrate the notions of understanding and experience in regards to being able to belong, the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” inevitably displays this through distinct communities of the Black and White Americans. The persona in the novel gains their sense of belonging through clear understanding of the intentions of human beings without racial contempt. Atticus and his family despite being white accepts the Negro community within their lives and this is expressed through the dialogue of “You will never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into their skin”. The dialogue effectively denotes the persona’s distinct understanding of other races which epitomises his sense of acceptance and overcomes barriers of stereotypes by allowing both the black community and his own family to itneract with each other. This is also clearly supported in the families sense of acceptance for their African maid, Calpurnia who they’ve come to know and understand as a human being expressed in the symbolism in the dialogue “It’s the same God ain’t it?” whereby Calpurnia integrates the sense of being human and equality through similar spiritual beliefs. This ultimate sense of overcoming barriers of stereotypes effectively emphasises the way in which Atticus teaches his own children about the values of life which becomes a significant experience within their life thus shaping their perception of belonging. The poem “Migrant Hostel” employs aspects of how experiences and overcoming barriers instigate a sense of belonging.

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The composer reflects how individuals are trapped within a significant place of a hostel are unable to connect to the outside community of that country. This concept of a barrier of the hostel is symbolised through the gate in the personification of “As it rose and fell like a finger, pointed in reprimand or shame”. The personification clearly depicts the sense of detachment the persona has towards the outside environment, in that the gate signifies the element of isolation and hinders their ability to belong. The persona’s understanding is further heightened in the simile “nationalities sought each other out instinctively like a homing pigeon circling to get its bearings”. The simile delivers an effective aspect to the responder as it reveals how the persona is shaped through his nationality and background inevitably epitomising the sense of culture in this significant moment which justifies the persona’s ultimate
sense of belonging despite being in a place filled with barriers and hardships.

The novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” also demonstrates how key individuals in significant moments in time overcome barriers to shape their understanding and gain acceptance through belonging. This is significantly expressed through the key character of Boo Radley of whom is ridiculed by society as he is subjected to rumours and torment as society falsely judges him as he is put in house arrest. This is represented in the symbolism of “Boo Radley was a malevolent phantom”. This symbolism and metaphor of being compared to as a phantom reflects how society subjects Boo into an outcast and is effectively isolated from the rest of the community being unable to belong due to their ignorance. Boo’s attitude and emotions are exemplified in the dialogue “I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time. It’s because he wants to stay inside”, whereby the children begin to realise Boo’s barriers and hardships he faced which is why he chooses not to belong as society subjects him into being an outcast and makes it easier for Boo to be separated away from the community around him. Ultimately Boo must undergo a transition and experience which allows him to belong despite the numerous barriers holding him from belonging into society as he is unable to interact with the community thus isolated from being able to belong.

The perceptions of belonging explored in the poem “St Patrick’s College” also emphasises how an individual’s experiences shape their understanding through cultural and social contexts of which becomes a barrier that the persona must overcome. The persona clearly reveals his lack of spiritual connection to the rest of the school community as represented in the imagery of “Our Lady watched with outstretched arms, her face overshadowed with clouds”. The imagery signifies the notion of uncertainty the persona pertains towards his catholic faith. This is further heightened through the persona’s weak relationship with the school itself and the sense of community it upholds through religion. This is clearly reflected upon when the persona expresses that he can say the Lord’s prayer in one breath. This depicts his ignorance and clear lack of understanding to the spiritual context the school has thus
revealing the elements of isolation he has towards the rest of society and the surrounding environment emphasising how the environment around him during his schooling life became a barrier in itself thus shaping his understanding in not being able to belong.

Inevitably individual’s face numerous barriers within their life and it is these significant moments they must overcome in order to belong. In Peter Skrzynecki’s poems, the persona undergoes significant moments of which the persona is isolated and detached from the rest of the community and his surrounding environment. Inevitably the persona must overcome these barriers which leads to a deeper perception of belonging. In “To Kill a Mockingbird” the characters are subjected to racism and stereotypes which are barriers each character faces and overcomes in order to belong with their surrounding society. Ultimately, it is through these significant moments and experiences that shape these individual’s understanding and perceptions of being able to belong.


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