Having a sense of belonging is important but how does it stop you from belonging to one another? Is it our own fears and perceptions or is it a certain characteristic such as a foreign accent, race, style of clothing or our overall presentation that prevents us from belonging? It is these things that create barriers from an individual from achieving a sense of belonging, acceptance and self-worth. This is explored in the two texts I have studied – the memoir, “Romulus, My Father” by Raimond Gaita and the MMORPG “World of Warcraft” by Blizzard Entertainment.
Both of these texts explore how culture, gender, race and tradition can all create barriers to belonging. Barriers to belonging can be broken down as fast as they are put up. In the memoir “Romulus, My Father”, this idea is explored throughout the book. For example, in the second chapter when Romulus is sent to work in the town of Baringhup, little is done to provide Romulus and his family with a sense of belonging. The absence of facilities make the inhabitants of the migration camp want to escape rather than stay there. Raimond writes that “there was little for the newcomers to do when they were not working”.
He mentions that on occasion’s markets, film screenings and dances were held. The absence of things that gave the previous migrants a sense of belonging to their community demonstrates how activities and places that people can gather to communicate and spend their leisure time together are important in breaking down the barriers that prevent us from belonging. The landscape of Baringhup becomes a physical barrier that further disconnects the new immigrants. Gaita writes “though the landscape is one of rare beauty, father could not become reconciled to it.
He longed for the generous and soft European foliage but the eucalyptus of Baringhup, scraggy except for the noble red hums on the river bank, seemed symbols of deprivation and barrenness”. The negative emotive language, created in words such as ‘deprivation’ and ‘barrenness’, in this is excerpt is contrasted with the subtle positive opinion of the narrator. Words such as ‘rare beauty’ and ‘noble’ indicate to us that Romulus’ longing for the European landscape of his home country is a barrier to belonging to Australia, whereas Raimond clearly shows no barriers in belonging to it.
The experience of a different kind of landscape in Europe meant for Romulus that he had many years of conditioning behind him to shape his perceptions of what defined natural beauty that his young son Raimond who has grown in the landscape. Utilizing the word ‘seemed’ shows the difference in opinions between the father and son as to what parts of nature made them feel welcomed and like they belonged in the world, thus breaking down the barriers to belonging. In relation to this is when Romulus and his family arrive in Australia and are sent to Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Clearing Camp.
The camp they were sent to offered shelter and food while the new migrants looked for an independent life and break down their barriers to belonging. It also provided them an opportunity to break down their belonging barriers through shared experiences, nationalities and culture. Upon arriving, Romulus “asked the man who greeted the new arrivals if there were any other Romanians… he sought them out and they quickly became friends”. Emphasising Romulus’ actions show us how commonality through language, culture and nationality can break down the barriers that prevent an individual, like Romulus, from achieving a sense of belonging.
Barriers to belonging aren’t always insurmountable. In the MMORPG, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, “World of Warcraft”, this idea is explored. Compared to “Romulus”, World of Warcraft explores barriers to belonging through a totally contrasting medium. In the game, you have the liberty of choosing between two sides – the Horde, and the Alliance, and also choosing what race you are, facial marks, clothing, and what your class is – mage, paladin, warlock, shaman, druid, priest or warrior, etc. Some of the races include human, troll, night elf, blood elf, undead, goblin and others.
Like in “Romulus”, race, colour, gender, culture and traditions can all create barriers to belonging. In “World of Warcraft”, clothing and race, for example, can show a lot about belonging and shows who groups with who, thus creating barriers between other races in Azeroth, the world which “World of Warcraft” is set in. Features as simple as this create a sense of belonging for the players and make them intrigued in how belonging to each group, race and class can influence their decisions, actions and overall gaming experience.
Even though costuming, for example, as it defines what faction they belong to, whether they are a friend or foe, what class they are and if they are any danger, is not as effective in games as it is in movies and books, defines where and what the player belongs to in a situation. This can create barriers to belonging between players as it makes them perceive inferences about other players and thus create a barrier between them. Like in “Romulus”, “World of Warcraft” players, actions, perceptions and things like race, culture, clothing, and tradition can create barriers preventing an individual from achieving a sense of belonging.
In “Romulus”, negative emotive language, emphasis, and effective word choice show that Romulus’ barriers are taken down just as quickly as they are put up. In “World of Warcraft”, barriers to belonging are created through the juxtaposing and matching of costuming and facial marks, expressions, body language and other visual techniques, through interactions between other players and NPC’s (non player characters), like in “Romulus”, the barriers to belonging aren’t always insurmountable.
Both of these texts effectively use contrasting techniques and both convey how things like race, culture, language, and others, can prevent an individual from achieving a sense of belonging, through two totally contrasting mediums. Sources: Handouts from my English teacher from HSC Study Guides, “Romulus, my father” – Raimond Gaita, and the World of Warcraft MMORPG.