Romulus My Father Notes for Belonging
* Study Questions * * Chapter 1 * 1. Romulus has a crisis in identity. He feels he is accepted in society due to his skill in blacksmithing trade. Although accepted, he does not feel he belongs due to his culture and heritage. His character is tied up with a strong moral code, in working hard, pride, communal strength and contributing to society but has no confidence in identity and how he fits in. He “Always considered himself a Romanian. ” And felt he belongs to that part of his heritage. He carried this culture through to Australia and keeps these character traits, which could be the reason he is separated socially.
He is a religious man that takes education seriously and in the highest regards. He always knew poverty and hard work for the community rather than money, which is why he was able to work so hard as a blacksmith for no pay. This shows his strength of character and good work ethic. He felt attached to Europe and therefore detached from Australia. In retrospect he was accepted by many people due to his hard work but still didn’t ‘belong’. * 2. Retrospective, hard working before and after school. Romulus prides himself on character.
The luxury that he didn’t get his son now is able to enjoy. Also not having a childhood because he worked the whole time. Raimond was able to become a writer and enjoy more creative things in life. He had free time where as his father didn’t. His dad grew up with little money and had to work for all the money he needed where as Raimond didn’t have to work as much. Most importantly however, Raimond was able to enjoy a sense of belonging when he was growing up to his father and family. Romulus was unable to enjoy any real sense of belonging whilst growing up.
Raymond would not have the same work ethic as his father; His dad thought that everything would revolve around his work. He worked before and after school. Romulus is a pragmatist or a practical man due to his job to get things done. This is because of his lack of childhood he has no humor, etc. Raimond was not made to contribute to the family and community as much as his father. He doesn’t always need to work for money; he came from a communist country so he worked for community. Education was very important to him and becomes apparent through his child.
He was a very strong, integrity, incorruptible, non-negotiable, religious and inflexible man. * 3. In ‘retrospect’ or hindsight Raimond is able to show his perspective contrasting to his fathers perspective. “Childhood as we know it” positions the reader to realize that childhood is a small time frame and many do not enjoy it such as his father. It makes people realize how hard times were back then. * 4. The use of past and present tense enables the author to show his perspective of things and relate things to present day situations. This also positions the reader to understand hindsight and retrospectively. 5. He was a working class opposed to middle class. This is because he is a blacksmith and works hard long hours to get money and gets by with minimalistic things. Romulus believes that she is snobbish and her activities such as going to the theatres were mistakenly snobby. Christine’s parents were able to accept him even though there was a distinct difference in class because of Romulus’ availability to clothes through the black-market. He was able to get food and clothes from the money he made. The money he earned allowed their relationship to be socially acceptable. * Chapter 2 * 6.
The labels ‘immigrant’, ‘foreigner’ and ‘new Australian’ are used to set a tone of alienation. It creates a clear separation between the Australians and the “Bolts”. Romulus felt no anger or “no resentment or indignation, or any other response which depended on the assumption that he was owed something better. ” He was able to reconcile the terms above by having no negative feelings. He also held onto his “young dreams of a new life and so he saw his two years of bondage as a short interim,” * 7. (p. 13) Baringhup: hay day late 1800’s. Cheeses were famous won many prizes. Small town. 00 kids at school. Flourishing community and therefore belonging to community. 1950 became a ghost town. Rather sentimental, gaiter feels bad that the community has diminished. The juxtaposition between the two paragraphs of the heyday compared to the ghost town of 10 houses and convenience store. Camp swelled in gold rush. When they weren’t working, little to do. Movies on sat night and occasional dances hosted. Immigrants didn’t like the eucalyptus. * 8. The landscape became symbolic of Romulus’ sense of alienation because of the idea the Romulus feels like a stranger due to the environment.
He doesn’t recognize the harsh and perceived blandness of the Australian scenery. He has a burning desire for the European atmosphere shown, “He longed for the generous and soft European foliage. ” Romulus finds the gum trees, “Symbols of deprivation and barrenness” (p. 14) This shows him being alienated and feeling foreign due to the landscape and he feels that he would look “directly to the foliage and always turned away offended. ” (p. 14) It is Romulus’ memories being based around the diverse and beautiful European environment that is one of the reasons he feels lost and separated in Australia. 9. Romulus establishes a sense of community in his new environment with the other Romanians, Hora and Mitru. “He asked the man who greeted any new arrivals whether there were any other Romanians. ” In searching for them it shows his need to find a sense of belonging. “He sought them out and they became friends quickly,” depicts the idea that they all needed a companionship and somewhere to belong amongst the foreign surroundings. This idea that it an essential part to the human spirit is demonstrated through the use of the concise phrasing and wording of this bonding.
The lack of detail in this part shows that immediately they sorted out to find somewhere to belong and then after that was settled, other factors were now able to take place. This is reinforced by the principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is through the searching for common people that Romulus shows his spiritual needs to belong and connect. * * Chapter 3 * 10. The landscape illustrates a feeling of belonging or alienation to a place. “A dead red gum stood only a hundred meters from the house and became for my mother a symbol of her desolation. This shows how the countryside invokes ideas of desolation and alienation into his mothers mind. The use of symbolism and irony of the Australian tree that is renowned for lasting through harsh conditions contrasting with Christine who has a mental breakdown and has to back away from many commitments and is viewed to have very little character and any sagaciousness towards going through a tough time. The peppercorns “were planted as though to mediate between local and European landscapes. ” Shows that there is not only despondency with the outback but also a consciousness of belonging.
These two quotes create a stark juxtaposition from the gum trees to the peppercorns, which reminded his father of home. This inkling is backed up with the description of Frogmore. The farm being a simple place with no electricity or running water, rats and snakes living under the house and 6-7 pounds for workers in the area creates the primitive existence. This contributes and reinforces the concept of isolation and desolation through surroundings. The use of the descriptive and almost poetic language emphasizes these points. Also Raimond retrospectively looks back at how his mother felt.
These points demonstrate tensions between the desire to belong and alienation. * 11. Christine was always troubled and spoiled which lead to her suffering isolation. She stemmed to self-harm, then sort out reconciliation. She did this by looking for company or someone to belong to. She had an affair with Mitru, which didn’t last long. Due to her alienation, she felt deprived and overdosed on sleeping tablets. “She was alone, small, frail, walking with an uncertain gait and distracted air. ” Shows how the separation has affected her. The use of visual imagery shows how small she is compared to the vast environment. …She appeared forsaken. ” As though “…she had returned from the dead. ” The use of Religious and biblical allusion create a mellow dramatic setting. People view her as a drama queen. Raimond writes the book in hindsight in a sorrowful manner. As though to give the reader the interpretation that he feels sorry for her and what she had to do. He tries to understand her feelings of isolation and seclusion. He tries to be sympathetic towards her in retrospect, even though at the time, she was widely considered pathetic. * 12. Romulus, as an immigrant from a European background, finds it hard to ‘fit in’ among Australians.
This could be due to his character and strong moral codes, but also due to him just being different. Him being afraid of the snake, and “unused to the tinder-dry conditions” caused Romulus to set fire to a large proportion of the property. “My father was the focus of their hostile attention. ” This goes to show that they do not accept him at this point in time and therefore does not belong to either the people or the environment. They all believe he is too different. This is juxtaposed with the change in shorter paragraph structure to emphasis the change in opinion.
People “attributed his survival to my father’s prompt and sensible action. ” This shows how he is not completely outcast and he does belong to certain parts of the society despite his differences and misunderstandings with some locals. * * Chapter 4 * 13. Hora’s connection with Romulus illustrates a deep sense of belonging and their combining for an enterprise. Hora however, does not respect Christine. There is a contrast between belonging with Hora and Romulus and his alienating attitude to Raimond’s mother. “He and Hora, together,” gives a hint of the bondage and belonging to one and other. They had quarreled and they quarreled,” deeply juxtaposes the idea of belonging and indicates a stark reality of separation and disconnection. “Heightened his impatience with my mother. ” Shows that Hora has little respect for Christine. The constant argument between them also goes to show that he has such little respect for her. The emotive language used in “my mother was stricken with remorse,” helps to bring out the irony in the statement. The mother had not cared about her husband, was selfish, flirtatious with other men, exaggerated, had a false note and was incapable of sympathizing with another person yet she had “remorse”.
We can see further disrespect through the use of prosaic and factual language: “Hora disliked her and did not respect her. ” Also through the use of symbolism such as with the oranges, eggs and milk. They are symbols of looking after and a sense of responsibility, also the relationship tension between him and Christine. However a connection to Romulus and Raimond is shown through respect in contrast to disrespect with his mother. He goes to the effort to get oranges “each week he carried groceries, fruit and anything else we needed” p. 45 “my mother was unmoved by his efforts” p. 45.
The eggs are a positive symbol of belonging, responsibilities from belonging, carrying the family, respect for Romulus and therefore belonging to family. It also is a symbol of livelihood. The milk shows responsibility of wanting Raimond to eat right and again respecting Romulus’ ways. “Carried…in a heavy sack on his back” symbolizes him carrying the weight and responsibility of belonging to the family on his back. This is the upmost respect for Romulus, doing it whilst despising Christine in the process. Hora carrying them It is through these statements that we can clearly see the contrasting respect for Christine to Romulus. 14. ‘Pass auf mein lieber Fritz’ exemplifies the connection between Hora and Raimond. This represents Hora’s sense of responsibility and mark of respect to Romulus. “Our previously affectionate relationship,” shows a strong connection between the two. Although it changes slightly due to disciplinary action, he still is a ‘father figure’ and they find a feeling of belonging to each other. The use of a cliche “when I was sailing close to the wind,” emphasizes the belonging and respect that Raimond has for Hora, that he would never try to cross the border line.
The relationship serves a purpose of showing belonging to each other but not belonging with place. Their close attachment through alienation, because they feel so left out, they form a close relationship with each other. The close bond between them is symbolic of him belonging to the family in replace of Romulus as a “step in father”. This close relationship is shown. * 15. Like most Europeans sets Romulus apart from Raimond because of the strong moral codes. The razor is important because it shows how strong Romulus’s moral code is. Raimond lied about steeling the razor.
Romulus gets more ‘angry’ about him lying about it rather than steeling it as well. This shows the strength in his moral code and overreacts with a vicious beating of Raimond for a corruption in his character. We see the repetition or theme of character appearing in this part of the chapter. This focus of character emphasizes the disconnection, difference and contrast between Romulus “like most Europeans” and Raimond. As Raimond didn’t see himself as European he feels the isolation and separation in pressure on strength of character.
Romulus also feels disconnected as Raimond says retrospectively, “He feared that I would be like my mother. ” This shows that Romulus feels Raimond is closer to his mother than him and could maybe belong better with her. The “cut throat razor” shows the difference in times as Romulus values the razor for its “craftsmanship” and aesthetic value. Raimond however, feels that it could be used to cut wood and doesn’t value it as much and therefore throws it in the river. This again shows the lack of belonging Raimond has to his fathers European background.
Retrospectively he looks at them belonging to each other and he has utmost respect for his father even though at the time there is more tension and disconnection. “I knew my father valued truthfulness above most things,” This sets high moral codes which may have led to him not belonging due to the higher than normal standards and values set. Through this we can see Raimond and Romulus are separated through this strong moral code even though they may appear to belong. * 16. The relationship between father and son is strongly depicted through the Spartan description of Frogmore life.
There is a change in language, the Spartan lifestyle shown by simple, banal and prosaic sort of language. This is a symbol of a beginning to belong to each other and possibly the environment. This contrasts with the next passage, which is crammed with rich and emotive language. This also shows a sense of connection and belonging to education and the belief in learning they posses. Romulus’ leg is mended and he is able to go back to his trade, being a blacksmith. This creates a sense of harmony. Romulus becomes connected, not with community but with his son, trade, past and background.
Descriptive language highlights the new sense of belonging. “This was better than the poultry farming. ”, “Classical hammer beaten iron work”, “Took such pride”, “crafted so superbly”, “copious amounts of fruit”. These use excessive adjectives, over description and exaggeration to create an appearance of harmony and peace to the reader. This helps the reader to become more attached to their relationship after times of adversity. This is a happy time for Romulus and therefore a happy time for his son. Present participles have an emotive effect all creating a sense of belonging between father and son.