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Section III - The Simple Gift and Black Balloon

Troy Martin

on 9 August 2010

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Transcript of Belonging

•meaning conveyed, shaped, interpreted and reflected in and through texts
•ways texts are responded to and composed
•ways perspective may affect meaning and interpretation
•connections between and among texts
•how texts are influenced by other texts and contexts. Belonging How does Herrick’s choice of form impact on
your appreciation of his examination of belonging? The free verse poems are told from the perspectives of the three main characters: Billy, the sixteen-year-old runaway; Caitlin, a girl from a wealthy family who forms a genuine relationship with Billy; and Old Bill, a homeless alcoholic. The first person narrative recount allows the
responder to directly engage with each of these
characters. Flashbacks, such as those used by Billy on p. 15,
highlight a ten year old’s sense of isolation which
was prompted by an abusive father. The memories
shared by Old Bill on p. 96, capture his utter desolation
at the loss of firstly his only daughter and then his wife. Subtext, where so much more is implied than the
words spoken, creates a parallel narrative, by giving
'voice’ to a character’s unspoken reactions. Values of life: For Billy are learnt from novels and real
life experience. As suggested in the poem, Lord Of The
Lounge, life seems, to Billy, to be about taking sides, but
it ‘hits’ him: ‘I’d go off alone’. ‘It is hard to fit in, when you are the odd one out’ The Black Balloon The Black Balloon (Elissa Down, 2007) is an Australian film about a family dealing with the day-to-day challenges of living with an autistic son. Charlie is seventeen and presents\ all kinds of embarrassing situations for Thomas, his 15 (going on 16)-year-old brother. The film deals with a number of issues about family life and the difficulties, challenges and rewards faced by families in which one of the members has a disability. The warmth, humour, love and generosity of the Mollison family makes for a very engaging film that is neither sentimental nor grim in its depiction of growing up with a family member with autism. It is an inspiring story about the power of love, family and friendship. The character of Charlie is based on Down’s youngest brother Sean who has autism, ADHD, and is an elective mute. As in the film, he did run into other people’s houses and use the toilet; he threw public tantrums and liked playing with his own poo. Down has also explained that the main heart of the film is to reflect her experience growing up. What it is like to be a sibling: frustrating, upsetting and embarrassing but also funny, uplifting and joyful. The story of Charlie and Thomas is inherently Down’s, yet, via the soundtrack which incorporates a number of popular songs, including The Screaming Jets’ ‘Better’ and Neil Finn’s classic, ‘Fall at your Feet’, the audience becomes engrossed in the family, becoming a part of the daily routines, many of which we find mundane, but are given importance when we reach the realisation that if the daily routine was broken, so too would peoples connection to each other. “Relationships are at the core of the concept of belonging”.

Do you agree? In your response refer to your prescribed text and one related text of your own choosing.
One constant in human nature is the tribal nature of humans. The cores of society are those relationships that shape and reshape us. Certainly, negative and positive relationships are focal points of Herrick’s ‘The Simple Gift’, these core relationships are dramatically altered by interrelationships of the various genders and generations. However, of significant value is how Herrick depicts the relationships, with the evolution of Billy, Old Bill and Caitlin being at the centre of his poetic prose. Furthermore, Ellisa Down, via ‘The Black Balloon’ also establishes the importance of relationships through the context of her central characters, Thomas and Jackie. Moreover, the place of the score and the symbolic value of family reinforce the place of relationships within the film. Therefore, while the exploration of relationships often connects the characters, it is how both composes do this that allows the reader and viewer to connect with each text, re-creating a relationship between the responder and composer. •An individual’s upbringing creates a powerful formative influence over the creation of a sense of belonging. (Consider Billy’s physical and emotional bullying at the hands of a dysfunctional parent. Contrast this with Caitlin’s ironic emptiness in the midst of the material wealth promoted by her father.)
•Physical security nurtures notions of belonging. (Reflect on Carriage 1864, Billy’s safe cave. In contrast, Caitlin can’t wait to escape her wealthy home and hence the controlling influence of her father, while Old Bill was afraid to face the ghosts of his home, preferring to be homeless.)
•Genuine relationships anchor individuals in identity, worth and connection. (Examine the growing recognition between Billy and Old Billy, and Billy and Caitlin. How does the growth in understanding and concern affect each character’s sense of worth and belonging?)
•The rules of society have bearing on an individual’s potential to belong. (Think over the social judgements made of Billy by the students on the yellow bus; Caitlin’s disgust at her socialised reaction to dismissively run when she watches Billy ‘sharing breakfast’ with an ‘old hobo’; and Old Bill’s faltering return to social acceptance as he walks the streets and makes small talk with locals about the weather, as he attempts to busy himself with normal behaviours, in order to withstand the allure of alcohol and pubs.)
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