‘An individual’s interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging.
‘ An enriched experience of belonging can be seen in the strong relationship between a father and son. This concept can be clearly identified with reference to both Raimond Gaita’s elegiac memoir ‘Romulus, My Father’ and Gabriele Muccino’s film ‘the Pursuit of Happyness’ which is based on the biography by Chris Garner. In both texts, a strong sense of belonging can be recognised between a father and son and through the unconditional love they share with each other as a parent and child.Each father contributes so much to their sons’ lives, in order to provide not only financially, but also to help them achieve a sense of belonging in the world, somewhat due to the lack of belonging provided within their families. In each text, the wife/mother figures have not been able to fully contribute to the belongingness in their family, resulting in the father figure having to take over the mother’s role, in order to provide for their son with what every son should have – a sense of belonging in the world and to be happy.This sense of a father wanting his son to belong, is also encouraged by the fact that each father has not grown up with a father figure themselves. Belonging is also shown in the way each father believes they have responsibility in shaping their son’s character, in the form of trust and shaping their son’s perceptions. ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ basket ball scene demonstrates a strong connection in the sense of belonging between father and son.
The scene demonstrates how Chris reflects on his previous life, by giving Christopher a very emotional and meaningful speech on a concept he clearly believes in and can reflect on.This is shown here, when Chris quotes “Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. Alright? If you’ve got a dream, you’ve got to protect it.
If people can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you cant do it. If you want something, go get it. Period. ” The high level of modality used in this extract puts great emphasis on the fact that Chris needs to know that Christopher wont be reluctant in following his dreams in his future.This scene highlights the strong emotional connection between father and son, and how Chris can relate to what he believes Christopher may face in the future, and tries to do all that he can do to stop this from happening to Christopher.
Chris has a big influence on Christopher being his father, and by sharing his emotions, this encourages a stronger sense of belonging between them. In ‘Romulus, My Father’, Romulus relates to his son in quite a similar way, however, it involves the strengthening of a sons character through Romulus’s strong belief in moral values.Incidents such as when Raimond steels Schwaba’s aftershave and when he throws his fathers favourite razor in the dam, are times when his father expresses his “fear for raimond’s character” in great anger and disappointment. It was not mearly the fact that Raimond had done these things, it was that he had subsequently, lied over his actions. As Romulus had set such a strong standard of moral values, it would have been inconceivable if Raimond had grown up with any of the attributes of the moral failings of his mother.Romulus’s anger highlights his desperate need for Raimond to grow up decently, which shows how strong the connection really is between them. Their relationship shows that a father’s role is to not only provide physically for his son, but to provide the moral standards in which he uses to shape a strong character for Raimond in order to belong in society in the future. This shows how the belonging between father and son carries on to enrich a persons sense of belonging on themselves.
‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ daycare scene symbolises the strong connection present between father and son and how they influence eachother in terms of belonging.When Chris arrives at the daycare to pick up his son after having argued with his wife Linda, we see how much his son really means to his sense of belonging – Chris says to Christopher, “Let me ask you something. Are you happy? Because I’m happy, and if your happy and I’m happy, then thats a good thing right? ” – The repetition of ‘happy’ enforces how much this word means to Chris, and that he is not able to experience a sense of belonging without the presence of this emotion within his son.
In this scene Chris’s belonging is represented by ‘happiness’. The scene shows how much Chris needs his son to belong and that he will go through anything to achieve this. Chris’s quote is then immediately followed by “Your sleeping with me. Your staying at home, where you belong. ” This makes a clear indication that Chris knows that his son belongs to him. The relationship shared between father and son, and the experiences shared between them, affect both Chris and Christopher in the enriched and declined experiences of belonging.
In ‘Romulus, my Father’, Raimond’s sense of belonging is shaped by his fathers commitment in providing physically and morally for his son. After Raimond’s birth, Romulus is forced to provide increasingly for his son, due to the lack of commitment from his wife Christine – “She seemed incapable of taking care of me” – Due to a mental illness which became ‘increasingly severe in the coming decade’. During times of great ‘shortages’ in Germany, it is shown how great Romulus’s commitment was to his son – “He denied himself so that i would have more, he fainted from hunger on more than one occasion. – The negative connotations justified by ‘denied’ and ‘fainted’ put emphasis on how much Romulus had to go through in order to provide for Raimond. This amount of self-sacrifice is the basis on which the strong connection between the father and son is formed and continues in order to make Raimond feel safe and secure throughout his childhood. This sense of feeling an amount of safeness and security around his father, proves to help Raimond in creating an increased sense of belong in society as well as having an enriched connection of belonging with his father.
In conclusion, an individual interacting within a father and son relationship, as either father or son, will work to reflect on ones perception of themselves, and help distinguish whether they belong in a particular area or not. A strong father and son relationship felt by an individual will continue to create an enriched sense of belonging toward themselves and their relationships, and will also continue to affect all other aspects of life.