Belonging is having a feeling of connectedness, or acceptance to other people, places or groups. This enables us to create a sense of identity for ourselves and helps us feel as though we ‘fit in’. In the following texts; Novel, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, film, Bend it Like Beckham by Gurinder Chadha and the song, Teenagers by My Chemical Romance; we can see links between the texts and how the characters feel a sense of belonging and not belonging.
In the first text The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri which is about the Ganguli family, Ashima, Ashoke, Sonia and Gogol, but the story is mainly focused on Ashima and Gogol. In the novel we see the views of Gogol and how he feels about his traditional indian family, and we see Ashima’s views of how Gogol chooses to live in a westernised way. The type of audience that the Namesake aims at is young adults to adults, people who like reading about the Indian culture,or just like Indian books. The purpose of this text shows how someone can have a sense of feeling that they don’t belong anywhere, they have to try and find their sense of identity. The themes and examples of these themes that are present throughout the novel are; Identity – “He is afraid to be Nikhil, someone he doesn’t know. Who doesn’t know him […] It’s a part of growing up, they tell him, of being a Bengali.” When Gogol was little, for school his parents wanted to make his official name Nikhil and his pet name Gogol. Gogol didn’t like that, he thought that changing his name would make him completely different. Meaning he would lose his identity.
Family – “He didn’t want to go home on the weekends, to go with them to pujos and Bengali parties, to remain unquestionably in their world.” Gogol doesn’t want to be part of the Ganguli family. He is able to escape from them when he goes off to college or when he moves to a different city for his work. Foreignness – “Within minutes, before their eyes Ashoke and Ashima slip into bolder, less complicated versions of themselves, their voices louder, their smiles wider, revealing a confidence Gogol and Sonia never see on Pemberton Road.” Gogol and Sonia are not use to their parents traditional way of life, their real personalities that only come out in Calcutta. Home – “They all come from Calcutta, and for this reason alone they are friends.” Being with their Indian friends makes Ashima and Ashoke feel like they’re home in Calcutta with their family and friends Love – “And then he remembers that his parents can’t possibly reach him: he has not given them the number, and the Ratliff’s are unlisted.
That here at Maxine’s side, in this cloistered wilderness, he is free.” Gogol uses love as an escape from his family and his life at home. Dissatisfaction – “On more than one occasion he has come home from the university to find her morose, in bed, rereading her parents’ letters.” Ashima is homesick and regrets coming to America, she misses all of her family back home in Calcutta. Society and class – “Later that night he is alone in his room, listening to side 3 of the White Album on his parents’ cast-off RCA turntable. The album is a present from his American birthday party, given to him by one of his friends from school.” Gogol doesn’t like being Indian, he much prefers the american culture and the westernised society.
The techniques that are used are; Symbolism, Allegories, Imagery and Third person. We see symbolism when they are in India and Sonia has an allergic reaction to jackfruit while on the train, and one of the passengers is murdered… this reminds them that America is a lot different to India. We see an example of an Allegory when Ashima is attempting to copy a snack that is big in India, because she is homesick, but the only problem is, she can’t quite get that snack right, which shows us just how far from home she is. Imagery can be seen when we take a look at “The Overcoat”, which is about a humble clerk who goes mad when he loses his fabulous new overcoat. It is said that the story is known for teaching us that we are unable to live without a public personality. Gogol and Ashima are the main narrative characters, which is where the technique of third person comes in. The Context of the Namesake is the differences in cultures ie. Indian and western, we see both Gogol and Ashima’s opinions about the differences in cultures. What Ashima doesn’t like about western culture, Gogol about Indian culture.
We can see links between The Namesake and the Bend it Like Beckham with the traditional Indian culture, the parents wanting to follow this traditional culture and their children wanting to live the westernised way. Jesminder Bharmra has grown up with her traditional Indian mother and father and her westernised sister. Jess wants to do right by her family, but she is torn with which way to go… her way or her parents’. The purpose of this text overall is to again show the lengths people will go to, to find their sense of identity, and the choices they will make to achieve this sense of belonging. The intended audience according to Gurinder the director is teenagers and 20 somethings, aiming specifically at females, to inspire them. The themes that can be seen in the text are; Gender and the British Asian experience – “Showing your bare legs to the boys.” Mrs Bharmra doesn’t agree with Jess showing her bare skin for the world to see when she is wearing shorts in the park. It conflicts with their traditional culture, but is completely acceptable in the American culture. The traditional vs modern conflict – “Don’t you want all this?” When Jess’ sister Pinky gets married, she has a traditional Indian wedding, Jess would have preferred a westernised wedding.
The techniques used throughout the film are contrasts, which can be seen in the differences between Jules family and Jess’ Stereotypes, which we see when the characters are judged by other people in the film because of their race, gender or the sport that they play. Sarcasm, when Jess’ mates are joking around and paying out Jess’ football team, The Hounslow Harriers. Characterisation, in the way that the characters are portrayed in the film eg. Jess’ male friends, typical ethnic colloquial language and the way that they dress. Juxtaposition with the contrasting of both Indian and British cultures together, creating humor. The context of the film is Jess’ journey through her aim in finding her sense of belonging and trying to also obey her parents commands. She wishes to play soccer, but it clashes with her traditional Indian culture.
Links can also be made between the Namesake and the song Teenagers, in the Namesake we see Gogol trying to rebel, in Teenagers we also see the way teenagers rebel against the rest of society. There are links between Bend it Like Beckham and Teenagers, in the way that society portrays teenager, almost the same way that they see other races like Indian. The purpose of this song is to highlight how frustrating life can be to fit in as a teenager. Also how the rest of society view teenagers, they’re scared by the behaviour, the attitudes, language and are intimidated when teenagers group together and cause trouble. The intended audience is teenagers, people who like rock, punk music or like My Chemical Romance. People who feel as though they can connect with their music they feel a sense of belonging when listening to My Chemical Romance.
The themes presented in this song are;
Identity – “They’re gonna clean up your looks, With all the lies in the books, To make a citizen out of you.” Teenagers feel as though they lose their sense of identity, of who they are, when society try to make them conform. They can’t be individuals anymore. Dissatisfaction – “The boys and girls in the clique, The awful names that they stick, You’re never gonna fit in much, kid.” Teenagers feel as though they don’t fit in anywhere, society wants them to become adults, their peers want them to stay as teens, they are torn between which way they should go. Society and class – “They could care less as long as some one will bleed.” Teenagers don’t want to conform, so they rebel, the way they act scares other people, they intimidate them and they don’t care if the things they do affect offend anyone else.
The techniques used are symbolism which can be seen in the lines “They’re gonna rip up your heads, Your aspirations to shreds.” meaning that society is going to basically take you away from everything you know and make you conform to the adult world. Contrasts can be seen when in the verses you have the opinions of society from the teens point of view, and the choruses are the opinions of teenagers from society. Stereotypes can be seen in the choruses basically saying that all teenagers are the same, all rebellious, all trying to make the rest of societies lives difficult. The context of the song is teenagers attitudes towards society, who are trying to make them conform and walk away from everything they know and become like everyone else. It’s also how corrupted teenagers have become and how teenagers of any generation will always scare their elders. How their behaviour affects the rest of society.
Throughout these three texts we can see where these characters find their sense of belonging, and how they find it. We can see their feeling of not belonging and their feelings of loss of identity. Although we have three completely different forms of texts, they all show links between them eg. Skin colour, racial background, age differences and having to follow in the adults footsteps and wanting to rebel because of it. These all accumulate to make the catalyst for belonging or not belonging.