St Patricks College

Belonging extended response The statement “understanding nourishes belonging… a lack of uderstanding prevents” demonstrates how to truly belong to something you must first have an understanding of what you want to belong to. A sense of belonging is an integral part of the human condition, and intrinsic to the development of identity, in a number of ways. Peter Skryznecki’s “St Patrick’s College” and “Postcard” illustrates how individual identity is influenced by belonging.

Peter Cowan’s short story ironically named School uses contrasting techniques and contradictions to show how event though you may belong in one environment you may not in another.

These texts emphasize how a sense of belonging can impact in a wide variety of ways on the particular individual. “St. Patrick’s college” explores the persona’s disassociation with his school. The connection he feels with the school are solely the superficial feautures of routine and uniform.

The poet makes it clear from the beginning how he feels alienated from the school that his mother insists on him going to, after being caught up in the superficial aspects of the school “impressed by the uniform of her employer’s sons”.

The only connection he feels is through the superficial features of uniform and routine. At the very start the poet makes clear the persona’s alienation as it is his mother’s desire to the school taken in by the same superficial features, “impressed by the uniform of her employer’s sons”.

Sckrzynecki makes clear the persona’s lack of connection from the very beginning.

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The poet uses impersonal, “voices at bus-stops, litanies and hymns,” to show emphasis on the distance the persona feels between himself and the school. This delineation is furthered through the technique of a simile, “like a foreign tourist”, accentuating not only his sense of exclusion, but also his cultural differences. This is additionally emphasised by the insecurty created by the diction “uncertain” causing the reader to empathise with the alienation experienced by the persona.

Sckrzynecki illustrates that despite his continuous efforts “learnt my conjugations and christian decorum for homework”, the persona still feels no spiritual or emotional connection with the school. The poet emphasises this point through the ominous tone of the “darkness around me”, experienced by the persona. The tone amplifies the lack of affiliation the persona feels with the school. The poet changes the tone of the poem by implementing humour when the persona confuses the school motto with “a bar of soap”, to further highlight the persona’s disassociation. he motto becomes ironic, as it is not until school that he succeeds. The irony symbolises the fact that the persona was unable to achieve a sense of belonging at the school and in hand was unable to achieve a sense of purpose and fulfilment at the school. Sckrzynecki’s “postcard” is a prime example of how to belong to something you must first understand it. The poem explores the persona’s trapped feeling, caught between his polish heritage and Australian upbringing.

The poem explores the sense of the persona never truly understanding his background so feeling that he could never truly belong in contrast to “st Patrick’s college” where the main persona felt disconnected even once having a good understanding into that certain culture. The persona feels no affiliation claiming “Warsaw, old town i never knew”. This distances himself from his heritage. The defintive diction of “never” only amplifies his alienation from his past culture. The poet uses the rhetorical question exclaiming in a tone of exasperation “what’s my choice to be? to demonstrate the inner battle within the persona as he tries to resolve the struggle between his two cultures. The persona thus reflects how a lack of belonging can cause a sense of both confusion and sensation of being lost. The inecsapabilityof the persona’s dilemma is emphasised throught the again negative diction of “haunts”. The egative connotation of the word serves to amplify the need to reconcile the two cultures. This idea is accentuated in the definitive diction of the final line’ “we will meet again” leaving the reader unsure as to whether or not the persona will ever sold his troubling dilemma.

There are many ways in which a piece of literature can be read and interpreted the short story School by Peter Cowan is one that incorporates reading practices and assumptions. School shows the persona’s contrasting situation as he feels like he competely belongs in one environment and in another completely on the outside. “Red pencil corrections, and they were nothing, related to nothing” “he knew the people and the town… and when he did something they listened and anwered” these two statements taken from two conflicting times in the short story show well the different situation the persona finds himself in.

The beginning of the story shows great relation to Schryznecki’s St patrick’s College as he seems to just be doing the minmum required from him but never really feeling attached to his school. The story also shares similarities to theme of Post card as both persona’s desire to be somewhere, one of the situations to feel more connected to thier heritage and in the other to be in a place were they feel more comfortable and welcomed. The above texts depict a range of characters in very different situations but at the same time all experiencing a sense of belonging in one way or another.

Althought the ways in which the characters experience belonging is very different, all the texts illustrate the importance of having an understanding into the cultural group they find themselves in for them to have a better chance of belonging. Both Schyznecki’s poems show different situations but a similar outcome as in both the persona never feels like he truly belongs. Peter Cowan’s Short story demonstrates how some people are suited to some environments and will never be suited to others.

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