What particular insight into an understanding of belonging have you gained from Raimond Gaita’s representation of his father’s life in Romulus my Father in the early chapters of the memoir, and how his choice of language, style, voice and the use of the memoir influenced your response to his story so far In the early chapters of the memoir Gaita gives us images and ideas that he himself acquired from his father, for example ‘Though the landscape is one of rare beauty, to the English or European eye it seems desolate and even after 14 years my facer could not become reconciled to it’ is a quote said early on in the book describing Romulus’ disdain for the Australian landscape which Raimond originally also shared until his enlightenment. Romulus does not feel like he can belong in Australia early in the chapter because he still has the images of the lush, green European landscape in his mind and this leads to a sense of not belonging because he hungers for his homeland. The idea that the landscape shapes your identity and sense of belonging is something that Gaita reinforces. Another insight into belonging that Raimond tries to convey is that people gravitate to those who share similar values/language to them. Romulus is a migrant and feels lost in this country but he then finds other Romanian people and bonds with them.
The house at frogmore which was isolated helped shape Gaita’s sense of belonging because he felt safe and free there, this is another example of the place where you grew up shaping your sense of belonging. Time and time again Gaita reinforces the idea that his father was a hero and someone who should be admired. This devotion and love for his father is seen throughout the memoir and we are told anecdotes explaining how Romulus made the hard decisions and tried to raise his son as a good person even going so far to beat him to reinforce these ideals such as lying is bad, respect your parents and not to steal. The repetition of this admiration is used to show the bond between a father and his child.
The depression motif gives another insight into how hard it is to acquire a sense of belonging. Many characters in the memoir have depression and this is to emphasis the feeling of loneliness, desolation and non-belonging because of the migrant experience and even Romulus himself goes through states of madness during his life because of the migrant experience. Acceptance by all people is something that people must have to belong or else the sadness/loneliness may drive them to madness also. Christina is an example of this because she has no sense of belonging, travels a lot and has a lot of lovers. Gaita never says she is a bad mother even because of these things, he only reminds us she that she has problems and it is not her fault.
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Her attempted suicide story is used to make us feel sorry for her and pity because she has never been able to connect with anything, ‘alone, small, frail…forsaken”, this accumulation of adjectives gives us a more descriptive picture of what was happening and how she felt. The narrative is in first person narrative and gives us a firsthand experience in what had happened. The memoir seems more real to us because it is real and therefore we can relate to it better and use it to better our lives. Though his language is more matter of fact at the beginning of the memoir, his eventual ascendance changes his language style so much that is clear that is a wiser and smarter Raimond speaking now. This higher intelligence lets us communicate with him better and so we can fully grasp what he is trying to tell us about belonging and how it is to get that true sense of belonging.
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