Ideas about “not belonging” have been presented as much as about “belonging” in texts. Composers often raise issues about the protagonists by making them feel a sense of not belonging on their journey. The audiences are allowed to access characters’ inner world through the comparison and contrast between a sense of not belonging and belonging. A sense of not belonging occurs when people are disconnected from something, which can make them feel being alienated, misunderstood or isolated.
These are learnt from the following texts: the play “Educating Rita” by Willy Russell, the film “Billy Elliot” by Stephen Daldry and the fiction novel “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. A sense of not belonging will result in a sense of alienation. During the setbacks in the play “Educating Rita”(Act1 Scene8), Rita firstly realizes the fact that she does not belong to the world where educated people have knowledge, wit and taste and she becomes urged to belong to it. Rita says:” because I am a freak. I can’t talk…I can’t talk…I can’t learn…I’m a half-caste. The use of highly emotive nouns “freak” and “half-caste” represents her sense of alienation; moreover, Rita is feeling inferior to the people who are well-educated. This is further emphasized as Rita constantly uses the modal verb “can’t”. Rita expresses her sense of not belonging by the repetition of “can’t”, which means her inability to talk and to learn as the educated people. She also releases her frustration of not belonging which comes from the huge difference between her way of presenting or communicating and the people who is regarded as “proper student” by her.
Similarly, in the film “Billy Elliot”, also during this setback, when Billy goes to the Royal Ballet School, he feels a great sense of not belonging. When the doctor is testing his spine, he does have no idea about what to do, which we can tell as the doctor repeats “head down” three times in less than 5 seconds. It was later on stressed when Billy is having interview. Through the interviewers’ view point, a close-up shot shows Billy’s feeling of discomfort, worry and insecurity; with the low angle shot, everyone is looking up at him, which makes him feel himself as an alien in the room.
The lack of background sound highlights the tension as Billy squirms uncomfortably under the question of the examiners. Although Billy tries to decrease the sense of alienation by having a deep sigh, it does not help at all as we can see his brows are knitted throughout the audition. As we can see, the sense of not belonging causes the feeling of alienation, which is presented in both texts. A sense of not belonging can also be presented as misunderstanding between people. During one of the setbacks of “Billy Elliot”, Ms. Wilkinson comes to Billy’s house to ask for the reason why he missed the audition.
Through Billy’s point of view, in a full shot, Tony is standing the furthest distance from him; they are physically separated which is as a symbol of emotional misconnection between them. Tony’s abusive language, such as “You! Fucking Ballet”, “tart”, shows the control of an elder brother over the young brother, but also tells the lack of respect and emotional bonding between them, as Tony misunderstands Billy’s sense of belonging to dance. He wants to protect his younger brother from a feminine world, as he says “He’s only a bairn. What about giving him a childhood? ” Billy says: “I don’t want one. I wanna be a ballet dancer. This directly shows the misunderstanding between the brothers as Tony does not understand what Billy truly wants. Later on, when Billy is put on the table by Tony violently, with the series of shot at high level angle through Billy’s point of view, Tony, Ms. Wilkinson and Jackie are all staring at him. Everyone is “analyzing” him and waiting for him to make a move. This once again makes him the “Gulliver” as no one understands what the “Giant” Billy wants. Similarly, in “Educating Rita”, the relationship between Rita and his husband Denny only exists legally, no longer emotionally, which can be seen from page 12, during one of the setbacks.
Rita says “he’s blind, he doesn’t want to see”, she describes Denny with a metaphor “blind”. This implies the emotional disconnection between them. Denny can’t see her longing to be educated. That is because Denny is limited by a working class’ thinking “we should start savin’ the money to move off out estate an’ an’ get a house out in Formby…” This directly points out that Denny does not understand Rita’s desire. Denny doesn’t realize that Rita’s inner world is looking forward to a middle class, she wants to get rid of a sense of entrapment to the working class.
But what Denny offers Rita are something more physical and basic, such as “a baby” and “house in an estate. ” The misunderstanding between people is once again shown. From both texts above, the composers raise misunderstanding issue to the protagonists through a sense of not belonging. A sense of not belonging makes people feel isolation as well. “Ender’s Game” is a story about a genius boy who is chosen to defend the Earth from an alien civilization. At the orientation in the novel, his sense of not belonging to his family make him feel isolated from his family.
He says “I know I’m a Third, I know it…now you have three kids with no obvious explanation, so inconvenient for you. I’m sorry sorry sorry. ” The euphemism “inconvenient” for “terrible” tells us that Ender doesn’t feel himself as a part of the family; instead, he is just an unwelcomed visitor, who now turns into a trouble to the family. His repetition on “sorry” emphasizes that he is self-blaming for his existence in the family. In most cases, a 6-year old boy would take under parents’ wings after they have done something wrong. But what Ender does is to apologize and feel sorry for his existence.
This implies that Ender is not really bonded with his family; moreover he is actually isolated by his family, as he doesn’t even try to seek any parents’ love. People will have sense of isolation if they feel a sense of not belonging, just like Ender does. In conclusion, through the above three texts studied this year, it is found that ideas about a sense of “not belonging” is complementary to the ideas of “belonging” in many texts. The protagonists who feels belong tend to be accepted and secure, whereas the others tend to feel alienated, misunderstood and isolated.