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.

** Corrections

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.


12 responses to “The "Belonging" Essay

  1. N

    October 6, 2010 at 1:10 pm


    I was wondering whether this was a personal response, I had a read of the essay and I was like o0 I don’t write like this. I also haven’t been doing very well in English this year but I did really well in year 11 so I’m not sure what happened there, I seem to be having most trouble with not memorising an essay and then just using it for the actual exam. What should I do?


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