Immigrant Chronicle Migrant Hostel Analysis Essay

Physical Journey Peter Skrzynecki Essay

A physical journey is an opportunity to see new landscapes and have new experiences. A physical journey will always be accompanied by an inner journey by virtue of obstacles and challenges an individual encounters. Composers explore the concept of journeys in different ways through texts. Texts show a number of different techniques to convey, to the reader, their ideas about a journey and the impact that the journey being taken may have on an individual or group. In Peter Skrzynecki's poems, Immigrants at Central Station, 1951 and Crossing the Red Sea, the experience of physical journeying is repeatedly encountered with the immigrants fleeing wore-torn Europe. This idea of physical journeying has skillfully been captured and expresses an individual's perspective among the journey they undertake. 'Gallipoli', directed by Peter Weir in 1981, reinforces the journey of individuals as well as conveying the emotional change of state on the soldier's journey from Perth, Australia to Gallipoli, Turkey, which is a result from the individual's experience of events they face along their journey.

The idea of life is depicted through both Skrzynecki's poems and Peter Weirs film. The poem, Immigrants at Central Station, 1951 conveys a melancholy and dark atmosphere. The immigrants are on an emotional journey to Australia escaping wore torn Europe. These immigrants have left their lives behind and are on course for an unknown future. The powerful simile 'like cattle bought for slaughter' is a profound statement that expresses the composer's attitude towards the physical journey and further illustrates the gloomy and crowded conditions in which the out casted immigrants are faced with. This quote also gives a strong illusion to the holocaust themes inflicted by the Jews that expresses the emotions seen in the poem - despair, desperation and anxiety. Skrzynecki's insightful poem, Crossing the Red Sea surrounds WWII and describes the horrifying destruction the war impacted on individuals. The poem illustrates the idea of Skrzynecki's family journey to a new land. The life changing nature of this event is evident in the poem, the quote, "or to watch a sunset they would never see again" in the 1st stanza displays a sense of wholeness through the metaphorical use of sunset and the word 'never'. The powerful sensory imagery elicited in the quote shows remorse and illustrates the desperation emerging from the immigrants. Moreover, this quote highlights the mournful and somber atmosphere the immigrants are experiencing and effectively describes the immigrant's journey across the Red Sea. For the people moving away from their war torn country was simply a search for a new beginning or opportunity, but many had to undertake desperate journeys to the comparative safety...

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Social and personal factors in one’s life influence and change our own sense of belonging. Peter Skrzynecki in his suite of poems “Immigrant Chronicle” and J.R.R Tolkien in his 1937 fictional novel “The Hobbit” both explore how social and personal factors influence an understanding of acceptance and belonging in their respective texts. Both Peter (being the persona) and Bilbo question in what social and personal situation can we belong. Skrzynecki uses the displacement of European migrants, in particular Polish migrants, to demonstrate how a personal connection to one’s homeland and society at a time of insecurity and discomfort can form a sense of belonging with others. As with many migrants the Skrzynecki family was forced to flee their beloved Poland for personal safety at a time of war. “Migrant hostel”, through the use of simile, demonstrates how those of similar culture band together in times of need to form a sense of belonging to each other as a community. “Nationalities sought / Each other out instinctively- / Like a homing pigeon” indicates a sense of cultural identity from a previous time allowed for the migrants to connect and form a sense of belonging and community in such an unfamiliar place.

A different sense of belonging between the immigrants is highlighted in the juxtaposition “To pass in and out of lives / That had only begun / Or were dying” which finishes the poem in a suitably depressing tone because for the migrants, there is no sense of connectedness to the Australian society and the sense of impermanence only exacerbates this feeling. Skrzynecki captures his lack of connection to the people by demonstrating the transitory nature of the hostel through a bird motif and how the hostel had a sense of impermanence. The attitude of the non-migrants is also demonstrated by the boom-gate simile “As it rose and fell like a finger / Pointed in reprimand and shame”. While the gate is personified it can be used as an extended metaphor for the rest of Australian society and its attitudes towards the new migrants, physically separating them from the rest of society by placing them in a rural, prison like, hostel. The terms “reprimand and shame” present a negative image to the responder, implying that the non-migrant society believes that the migrants deserve this treatment. This sense of unacceptance leads to his questioning of who he is in a time of social change and influences his personal sense of belonging.

Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” reaffirms that social and personal factors can have an influence on one’s sense of belonging. The protagonist, Bilbo, experiences maturation during a yearlong wild adventure that reaffirms his sense of belonging at his home and with his personal comforts. The fictional adventure takes Bilbo on an adventure with a group of dwarves that believe that he is “more trouble than use” (Chapter 6, page 107). This attitude doesn’t deter Bilbo however but instead forces him to continue in the group until he is accepted within the micro society, by which time he is far from home. The third person narrative that leads the responder on Bilbo’s personal journey allows for an omniscient perspective that allows the responder to gain an intimate knowledge of the characters and the social and personal factors that help form their sense of belonging.

The linear timeline that spans exactly one year allows for the plotline to develop alongside Bilbo’s maturation with his ultimate sense of personal acceptance occurring at the end of a year by his return to the Shire, his “home” with the use of the term home to indicate social and personal connection. His companions by this time have also reclaimed their homeland, fulfilling their desire to return to the place of ancestral social belonging. At the end of Bilbo’s tumultuous journey most characters have taken time to reflect on where they belong in society and have accepted their place in the fictional world.

Skrzynecki’s enigmatic poem “Ancestors” reflects on a connection to ancestors, how it forms a sense of acceptance and how it influences a sense of personal belonging. This reflection occurs at a critical early moment within his suite of poems when Skrzynecki has left school and is beginning to look back on his past. Skrzynecki uses a fantastical setting in order to demonstrate his lack of connection to the “faceless men” of his past. The wish to connect with the men of his past in order to continue his future is reminiscent of Thorin’s band of dwarves in Tolkien’s novel. These faceless men and the use of the imagery of “shadows” confirm the responder’s sense that Skrzynecki has little personal connection to his ancestors. His ancestors are shown to dwell in a place “Where sand and grasses never stir /
The wind tastes of blood”, A metaphor used in order to reinforce the physical disconnect between this world and the persona and to further demonstrate Skrzynecki’s familial but not personal connection to these men. Skrzynecki casts doubt upon whether the time spent wanting a connection will ever satisfy the need to meet them in the rhetorical question “how long / Is their wait to be?”. The dream-like poem suggests that the cultural and familial connection one’s predecessors isn’t enough to feel secure in one’s heritage and that not having that security can lead to a lack of satisfaction, clearly demonstrated in the simile “Your tongue dry / As caked mud”. A connection to one’s ancestors can dramatically influence a person’s sense of belonging and acceptance of themselves and their cultural heritage.

As evident in both Skrzynecki’s poems “Ancestors” and “Migrant Hostel” and in Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” social and personal factors can influence a person’s sense of belonging.

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