The "Belonging" Essay
Well, as promised on the previous page*, I have done an essay on Peter Skrzynecki. So here it is:
My "Belonging" essay (PDF)
Honestly, I am not sure how good it is. I’d be interested in feedback. I am not, I should add, actually of migrant background — well not since the convict arrived in 1821 — but assumed that persona for the essay. 😉
I see there are two small typos** in that essay, but it really is a first draft! I wonder if you can spot them. I ran it past a young HSC English teacher 24 hours after posting it. He emailed just now: “I don’t know any of the texts you’ve written about but it strikes me as extremely thorough and it certainly is a personal response (for your persona, anyway): something I think students are hesitant to do. It is subtle, in that it goes far beyond a formulaic ‘Abigail wants to belong so she does this’, ‘Proctor refused to belong because he does this’ sort of thinking which I am dealing with at the moment. It also integrates discussion of the texts very well, which isn’t the case even with my better students. I’d give it a 20. :-)”
In fairness to my friend’s students, I really did find it difficult to integrate talking about the texts with saying something about belonging, finding that what I did say about belonging had to be kept fairly simple. It would be only too easy to run off on that idea at the expense of the texts.
I still think this is one of the hardest tasks in the whole HSC.
* I strongly recommend you visit that previous page as there you will find more information backgrounding the essay.
Looking over the essay a couple of days later I see even more errors, or infelicities. (That’s a good word, isn’t it?) Just about any first draft writing you could care to name will have such things; examiners know this. The examination is in many respects the enemy of good writing, which almost by definition is revised writing!
Here are a few to think about:
Belonging in its positive and negative forms – it can nurture but it also restrict – has a missing word. Can you fix it? (Clue: think “can” or “may”, and decide which one would be better.)
It works by anecdotes each selected to illustrate a stage in Yang’s own quest for belonging. I think that needs a comma. Do you agree? Where?
…of course there are even bigger issues that that for the world at large. Pure typo, that one. Do you see it?
I’m sure there are more. I am rather too fond of the word “also” at times, I think.