Romulus, my father is a Memoir written by Raimond, Romulus’s son is about Romulus and his journey and life in Australia in the early 1950’s. This memoir explores the concept of belonging through many topics such as Romulus and his immigration experience from Yugoslavia to Australia. It explores the shared beliefs and values of Romulus and his son Raimond. It also explores the concept of belonging through the different family member perspective of the landscape and the connections within Romulus family.
Romulus, My father explores the immigration experience and demonstrates that the process can involve alienation and dislocation, often balanced by a growing sense of acceptance. Romulus was born and raised in Markovac, Yugoslavia Despite being in Yugoslavia, Markovac is located in an area which they speak Romania. Romulus is connected to its inhabitants by language that provides a sense of belonging to that nation, this makes is hard when Romulus migrants to Australia in the hope to improve his wife’s health.
Upon arriving at Bonegilla Romulus seeks out other Romanians who he can befriend. Romulus realises the importance of commonality through nationality, language and experience as factors in creating a sense of belonging. It was not the physical state of frogmore that created a sense of belonging for Romulus and Raimond but the opportunity that the place brought for togetherness and a close father son bond. Symbolism is shown for the sense of belonging, which is created out of Romulus and Raimond father son relationship.
Christine unfortunately is unable to feel that she belongs to frogmore due to the disconnection with the landscape, this leads to the breakdown in her relationships with Romulus and Raimond. Christine feelings of isolation and alienation are due to disaffection from the land. This highlights the efforts of her mental illness on her feelings of belonging. ‘A dead red gum…became for my mother symbol of desolation’ Romulus, my father demonstrates how a sense of belonging can develop a result of shared values and cultural connections. The relationships between Romulus and his brothers Hora and Mitus are central to this concept in the memoir.
Romulus values are shown through extended discussion that they are much the same as those of Australian people in his community hence he is able to conform to fit into their society unlike Christine. Romulus values see him become accepted for both having good character and have a strong work ethic and thus he establishes new relationships and a sense of belonging through this. However over time Romulus views lead to his alienation and rejection of old friends when they fail to ‘meet promises’ thus showing one must be lenient with their views in order to feel as is they belong.
Knew their own worth of others’ Romulus did not respect nor have any values for prestige or status. Belonging and alienation is often developed as a result of individuals capacity to relate to place and their environment. In Romulus, my father Raimond explores his own connections to place and the contrasting responses of his parents. Many first generation migrants are unable to build a connection to a landscape that is a stark contrast from what they know. For Christine this creates disaffection and imposes on her ability to feel as though she belongs.
Raimond sense of belonging to the landscape and transcendence is shown through his understanding of the place. Raimond is able to draw inspiration from the land allowing his to look towards nature as a sense of Solace. This shows the influential power of the surroundings as a means of nurturing their sense of belonging. ‘ I had absorbed my fathers attitude. To the country side, especially to it’s scraggy trees, because he talked so often of the beautiful trees of Europe’. Raimond expresses his relationship with both Romulus and Christine through his objective and compassionate recollections.
The close bond he had with his father balanced with his complex relationship with Christine. As Christine betrays Romulus, their relationship begins to collapse a breakdown of a typical family. Christine is alienated from her family due to her mental illness. Her neglect of Raimond impacts negatively on their relationship during his teenage years leading to conflict in their relationship. However, Raimond still feels a strong influence of family bonds and her neglect of him creates negative connotations of his feelings of belonging within his family.
In my heart, I still love you” Raimond and Romulus belong to each other through the powerful bond of the unconditional love of a parent and their child, a direct contrast from the relationship between Raimond and Christine. This relationship defines how a person’s sense of self can be defined through belonging to a family. Simplistic views of humanity held by Romulus which reflects his need for Raimond to grow up well.
When Romulus dies Raimond is left to question his own individuality nd identity as mirrored through the lasting example of his father, which ultimately leads him to a deepened understanding of his self and the world around him. “his desire-his need- for me to grow up decently’ The memoir Romulus, my father by Raimond Gaitsa shows many aspects and examples throughout of belonging. Its explores both belonging and not belonging through Characters such as Christine who fails to feel a sense of belonging after moving to Australia to Romulus and Raimond who find a sense of belonging within the community and within the relationship they have with each other.