In The Sound of One Hand Clapping, what links are there to themes with Romulus, my Father?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Ultimately, the major links between these two texts concern the themes of belonging and identity. Both texts feature two families who come to Australia as immigrants from Europe and have to deal with questions of identity and home that shape their struggles as they seek to settle in the country of Australia, which is new to them, and never entirely "home." In Romulus, My Father, for example, the struggles of Romulus to raise his son in an alien land are explored along with the personal hardship of Romulus trying to cope with his wife's abandonment and raising his son by himself. The battle Romulus faces to try and "belong" to Australian society is focused on as he struggles to make ends meet and to make a life for himself and his son.

In the same way, The Sound of One Hand Clapping explores the issues faced by the Buloh family as they start a new life in Australia having sufferered immensely and having witnessed and experienced various atrocities in war-torn Europe. The Buloh family have a real struggle to establish themselves in Australia, a country where they feel they don't belong, but also they have a struggle to establish their own sense of identity and understanding of who they are and how they fit into the world. Note how Sonja responds to hearing the news about the collapse of the Berlin Wall:

It meant nothing to her, this news, that history, and she sat there enveloped in smoke, both part of and beyond history, forgotten by history, irrelevant to history, yet shaped entirely by it . . . in the end history—like the Berlin Wall—shaped her, but would not in the end determine her, because in the end it cannot account for the great irrational—the great human—forces: the destructive power of evil, the redeeming power of love.

Sonja is a character who is of course "shaped entirely" by the history she does her best to ignore and disregard, and it is this conflict and dialectical tension between past and present, between the original homeland and the new "home," that is explored in both of these texts as immigrants and their struggles to survive and build a life for themselves are focused upon.


We’ve answered 317,688 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question