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Romulus My Father Essay

1210 words - 5 pages

The exploration of texts such as Raimond Gaita’s Romulus my father, Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Tim Winton’s Neighbours, all exemplify the universal theme of how our perceptions of belonging and not belonging can be influenced by connections to places.
Romulus my father is a biographical memoir detailing the cultural struggles of belonging and segregation within unfamiliar surroundings. The text demonstrates how an individual’s interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging. Gaita uses reflective first person narration throughout the novel to not only express his own personal struggles to belong, but also his mother’s and ...view middle of the document...

Similarly, in Tim Winton’s Neighbours the young couple become outcasts like Edward amongst the suburban neighbourhood through their personification as ‘sojourners in a foreign land’, showing how out associations to places can provide a sense of belonging
Cultural and maternal belonging is an important theme addressed across Romulus my father. This central theme is what drives the characterisation of Christine and Romulus. Christina’s inability to recover from her mental illness was further obscured by her physical and social environment. Christine was a ‘troubled city girl from central Europe’ who was forced to adapt to the barren and desolate environment. Raimond’s “family” existence is as stable as his mother’s behaviour, haunting the text and working against the common notions of family and home. Throughout the novel Raimond places an emphasis on the growing separation of his family as a unit and as a result his behaviour becomes unstable. Gaitia describes the poverty inherited into his family’s existence by commenting on his mother’s ‘desolation and isolation.’ His use of discontinuous narrative reflects his memories of confused identity and shows how disconnected Christine was to her circumstances. Christine’s neglect for Romulus becomes prominent after the family’s passage to Australia, Raimond says ‘my father’s devoted care of me contrasted obviously to her neglect.’ This instability is emphasised through a connection to place when the farmhouse at Baringhup is accepted as a home by Raimond and Romulus but not Christine as ‘she could not settle in a dilapidated landscape that highlighted her isolation.’
Place becomes an important identifier of belonging through Raimond’s contrast of the Australian and European sensibility. The depiction of the migrant experience immediately introduces the notions of separation between cultures. Romulus’ experience as a migrant demonstrates that even in a place that provides security and safety there is an absence of belonging in the form of nationality and ethnicity. Even though the town tried to make Romulus belong by ‘calling him Jack’ Romulus chose to keep his own name as he ‘always considered himself a Romanian’ and ironically Romulus chooses not to belong. The cultural reality of the rural Australian existence is also introduced when Romulus and his family are transferred to a migrant reception camp, which demands the assimilation of the migrants into the body of the Anglo Saxon culture exemplified in the term ‘New Australians.’ This gives us an insight into how our sense of belonging or isolation can be influenced by our connection to a specific place.
Edward Scissorhands parallels the assimilation of culture in Romulus my father when Edward is offered ‘normal’ clothes in order to blend in with his...

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