Sense of Belonging Explored Through Literature

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The concept of belonging is deeply fused to humans’ interrelationships, with acceptance from others being the key to a sense of belonging. Numerous texts reflect the fact that engaging in relationships with others, including varying groups and cultures, is integral to a feeling of belonging. However other texts present ideas that suggest identity is the most integral aspect of belonging, or that in fact an introspective alienation from others is necessary to belong. This essay will discuss the importance of acceptance to belonging and also how other aspects hold equal value with reference to various texts, namely the poems ‘This is My Letter to the World’ and ‘I had been Hungry all the Years’ by Emily Dickinson, the artwork ‘The Two Fridas’ by Frida Kahlo, and the film ‘As it is in Heaven’ directed by Kay Pollak.

Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘This is my Letter to the World’, presents an exploration of the poet’s alienation from society and her simultaneous desire to connect with it, hence displaying her need to belong through connections to others. Dickinson’s use of the pronouns, ‘this’ and ‘that’ in the first two lines of the poem immediately establishes Dickinson as an external entity isolated from society. This is further depicted in the contrast created between Dickinson’s ‘sweet countrymen’ and ‘me’ where the two phrases’ physical isolation on separate lines exemplifies their disconnectedness and hence demonstrates Dickinson’s alienation from the camaraderie connoted by ‘countrymen’. Further, in the line “the simple news that nature told” nature is personified to represent a Pantheistic God. As the ‘simple news’ is symbolic of Dickinson’s work, this places the poet as a vessel for nature and hence relegates Dickinson to a hig...

... middle of paper ...’s lessons to Daniel, demonstrate reciprocal relationships which again represent the integral importance of inter-connections. Hence overall the film contrasts the idea of belonging through religion which stifles emotion and identity, to human relationships which are shown as a life-giving force providing belonging through acceptance and understanding. (318)

Overall, all these texts display different aspects of belonging. While ‘The Two Fridas’ and ‘As it is in Heaven’ affirm that acceptance from others and within communities is essential to belonging, Dickinson’s poetry overall suggests that identity is a more important aspect of belonging, and that in fact alienation from others can develop an inner belonging. Hence it can be seen that belonging is established through varying different mediums, and that acceptance is not solely its most important aspect.
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