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In the poem ‘Background, Casually’ by Nissim Ezekial, look for themes of culture, identity, race, history, and above all the importance of a sense of belonging. Although the title is very off-hand, even throwaway in it’s style , it gives a lot away. A person’s background, or a country’s background, can never be passed over or ignored, if it forms an integral part of who they are. Their background affects their attitude to learning, their ability to carry out a job and their success or failure at relationships over a lifetime.
Nowadays the idea of belonging is becoming more muted and, some would say, is mellowing. Elders may shake their heads at the ability of their young to soak up new ways and cultures, others may seek to live in more closed communities where this is less likely.In a multi-cultural society,ethnic citizens who belong to minority communities come up against the difficulty of trying to belong to two cultures and challenges and conflicts may occur when a minority don't identify with the majority.Though coming from a minority race in India (the Jews),Nissim Ezekiel defends his right to be considered Indian too. Many young people growing up in blended cultures face the same problems - they may be one person at school or at work, and another in the home.The poet puts up with the humiliations and victimization from those belonging to other cultures, but is after all affected by this suffering and commits them to paper in the poem. He offers his dedication to the country where he lives but casually alludes to his concerns in the title 'Background, Casually.’.The poem seems lightly written but, the implications are sobering and profound . Overall, one strong message a reader could take away from the poem is that it is up to the individual, not the society, to decide where he most belongs and feels most comfortable with.
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