AOS â€“ Romulus My Father
AOS Concepts How Gaita’s choice of language, imagery and the relational autobiography genre convey meaning about the concept of belonging and shape your response. How his choices have been influenced by his strong sense of belonging to his father, his alienation from his mother his coming to terms with his relationships and his sense of self. How Gaita represents belonging through his representations of people, their relationships, ideas, the landscape, events, and society’s response. How his assumptions about belonging have influenced his representation.
AOS Concepts How the individuals’ perceptions of belonging or not belonging in the autobiography can vary and are shaped by his or her personal, cultural, historical and social context. How you perceive the world through Romulus My Father and related texts.
AOS Concepts ď‚§ Perception refers to the interplay of recognition and interpretation and is influenced by our preconceived ideas, memories, experiences and senses. It can alter and even distort how we view the notion of belonging.
Contextualisation AOS Concepts How Gaita’s and your perspectives are shaped by personal, cultural, historical and social contexts Child of migrants Mental illness A difficult and fraught childhood Professor of Moral Philosophy
AOS Concepts How Gaita’s and your perspectives are shaped by personal, cultural, historical and social contexts Child of migrants Mental illness A difficult and fraught childhood Professor of Moral Philosophy
AOS Concepts The connections between texts through the concept of belonging Compare and contrast Connect through the thesis or line of argument
Aspects of Belonging
ď‚§ The potential of the individual to enrich or challenge a community or group: Christine, Lydia, Hora ď‚§ Represent choices not to belong, or barriers which prevent belonging: Mental illness, attitudes, values
Aspects of Belonging The way attitudes to belonging are modified over time Romulus becomes more detached and isolated after his experiences with women Christine realises what she has lost Gaita detaches from his mother
Student Response The possibilities presented by a sense of belonging to, or exclusion from the text and the world it represents. May be influenced by the different ways perspectives are given voice in or are absent from a text – Christine?
HSC Examination Rubrics In your answer you will be assessed on how well you: • demonstrate understanding of the concept of belonging in the context of your study • analyse, explain and assess the ways belonging is represented in a variety of texts • organise, develop and express ideas using language appropriate to audience, purpose and context
Form Relational autobiography using the outward-turning form of the memoir to focus on the author's parents, and in particular on the figure of his father ‘I thought of it as a tragic poem.’ Spare, stripped-down prose
Barriers which prevent belonging
The Australian landscape is an evocative metaphor for belonging, identity and alienation ‘Although the landscape is one of rare beauty, to a European or English eye it seems desolate, and even after more than forty years my father could not become reconciled to it.’
Barriers which prevent belonging “when she was two
hundred metres or so from the house, alone, small, frail, walking with an uncertain gait and distracted air. In that vast landscape with only crude wire fences and a rough track to mark a human impression on it she appeared forsaken.” “For the first time in my life I was really alive to beauty...”
Displacement Europe and the migrants are in dislocation. They are physically and mentally imprisoned in this remote, foreign land and the Australian landscape conflicts with their European sensibility ‘Those were the days before multiculturalism — immigrants were tolerated, but seldom accorded the respect they deserved.’
Alienation The Migrant Experience: - Labour camps, split families, an alien way of life, trying to fit in - prejudice and racism - language barriers - “As soon as my father arrived at the camp…he asked….whether there were any other Romanians.”
Alienation ‘A troubled, intense, passionate and cultured city girl from Central Europe, she showed form the beginning signs of a psychological illness that would prove tragic. It was foolish for my father and me to hope that she could settle in a derelict farmhouse in a harsh landscape that aggravated her torment.’
Relationships The significance of relationships in shaping our view of world, others and self. Raymond's “extended family” contribute to his growing up and sense of self and identity ‘Hora...my father's dearest friend and a second father to me.’ “when Hora was at Frogmore he and my father often talked into the early hours of the morning, the kitchen filled with cigarette smoke and the smell of slivovitz”
Relationships Our values, attitudes, personality and experiences shape the way we relate to others. ‘I wanted to write, as Parker says, about the tragedy in the lives of Romulus, Christine, Hora, and Mitru.’
Notions of Identity Romulus’ ‘character’ is already strong like steel at the age of thirteen He is fearlessly courageous in his defence of principle and has the inflexibility of a moral ‘innocence’ which, in the end, breaks under the shocks of life. He is driven mad by the failure of human life to meet his exacting demands.
Notions of Identity Christine is artistic, temperamental and sensitive. Gaita’s representation of his mother is distant and limited. ‘It’s true the book doesn’t describe how things looked from my mother's point of view. That is partly because no one knows.’
Notes from the Marking Centre ď‚§ Candidates who clearly understood the purpose of their texts were able to demonstrate conceptual understanding and respond personally. ď‚§ High-range responses used key terms particular to their focus area to create their own thesis, and displayed an ability to evaluate and analyse. ď‚§ Better responses developed a thesis which demonstrated a strong conceptual understanding of the module and the elective.
Section III: Extended Response
Must demonstrate understanding of key concepts and ideas of belonging from the rubrics and through your response to the texts Develop theses or lines of argument Choose texts that connect with concepts
Theses or Lines of Arguments ď‚§ We spend our lives trying to belong to self, a place and others, not realising that it is our perceptions and attitudes that enable us to belong or not belong. ď‚§ When we begin to understand the forces that drive us to belong we develop empathy for others and personal insight. ď‚§ The relationships we have with self and others shapes our perception of belonging.
Section III: Extended Response The question must drive and shape your response. Your thesis or line of argument must be developed and sustained. Integrate your discussion of the ideas and the textual features and details of your texts using your thesis to shape the analysis. Select texts of own choosing that connect and contrast with how the concept of belonging has been explored and represented. Your personal response to how belonging is represented and how your way of thinking has been challenged is valued!
Furthering a Thesis or Line of Argument When your cultural identity is marginalised you can feel dislocated and displaced, and believe that you do not belong to your culture or the dominant culture. A migrant in a new land can be isolated by language, culture and absence of friends and family. Gaita’s father in Romulus My Father is isolated initially by the slow acceptance of migrants in Australia in the1950s and by the mental illness of his wife, but through work and friendship he finds his place.
The western culture is so powerful and pervasive that many young people reject their cultural identity believing that this is the only way that they can ever belong. Botj in Johnson’s film Yolngu Boy rejects his Yolngu culture believing that it is the old way; however, he loses his dignity, self-respect and eventually his life.
Many indigenous people are caught between the two worlds: the world of their ancestors and the world of the colonisers, and belong to neither. Singer and poet Archie Roach acknowledges this conflict, but he is a powerful advocate for the Aboriginal culture and the need to respect and embrace that culture. As we grew up we felt alone Cause we were acting white Yet feeling black ‘Took the Children Away’ – Archie Roach
Texts of Own Choosing Picture Books: The Red Tree, Way Home, Tales from Outer Suburbia, The Arrival, My Place, The Island Graphic Novels: -American Born Chinese (Yang) - Jin Wang, a lonely Asian American middle school student who would do anything to fit in with his white classmates - Sacco’s Palestine - One Night The Moon - Winton’s The Turning