What are some good texts on the area of study "Belonging" for an advanced English student?What are some good texts on the area of study "Belonging" for an advanced English student?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the rise of postcolonialism, concepts such as belonging and home have received lots of recent critical attention, especially against the backdrop of displacements, migration and the way that boundaries have been imposed upon people. Any text that discusses the experiences of migrants would be an excellent choice to study for this thematic topic, but particular recommendations I can give you would be the following.

Vikram Seth's masterful The Shadow Lines gives an account of a family both before and after the infamous partitioning of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, that shows how the concept of belonging can become incedibly complex when identity and home is something that is imposed upon you by others.

Another popular postcolonial text about identity and belonging is Mukherjee's Jasmine, which follows the life of one migrant and explores how she is able to re-fashion concepts such as identity and home in a way that explores the positive side of hybridity.

Looking back into history, you might find Roots an interesting text to examine, which explores how one man's home is taken away from him when he becomes a slave and transported away from his original home.

booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One novel that deals with finding a place to belong is Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, as well as Of Mice and Men. In both of these stories, the main characters are forced to move around because of the Great Depression, and their sense of belonging changes because of their altered circumstances. Their struggles are based on a need to belong not to a group, but to a place. It is their decision to stick together (and belong with certain people) that helps them survive (though in Of Mice and Men, this is not enough). The Bean Trees is not a very "heavy" book (by Barbara Kingsolver), but deals with a young woman's search to find out who she is and where she belongs. (I really love this book.) Another book that you might enjoy is The Secret Life of Bees by Susan Monk Kidd. In this story, a young girl searches for a place to belong—after the death of her mother. Where she ends up is something of a surprise, but that place—and the women there—changes her life.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of the books already recommended are good suggestions. I would add The Book Thief. It's an excellent book about not feeling like you belong. Liesel Meminger doesn't belong anywhere. She is taken from her mother to live with an older couple who want her--at first--only for the few pennies they get for keeping her. She doesn't seem to fit in anywhere except when she's with her one friend Rudy, her foster father,  and the Jewish man her foster parents are hiding in the basement. It is also written from an innovative point of view. The story is told in an odd mix of first and third person. It's third person because we know what all of the characters are doing, but it's first person because the narrator is Death, who sees the characters' actions, but does not know their thoughts.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concomitant with the motif of belonging as an immigrant experience is Willa Cather's seminal novel My Antonia, the narrative of Bohemian immigrants who came to Nebraska in the 1880s as some of the new American farmers.   Cather's novel is a poignant portrayal of Antonia, who survives her father's suicide, hires herself out as household help, is abandoned at the altar, and later gives birth out of wedlock.  With courage, however, Antonia perseveres and finally reaches self-fulfillment by marrying a Czech farmer, having a loving family and flourishing farm. 


wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
My Forbidden Face might be another interesting book. It deals with the struggle over where we belong to where we want to belong. The girl in the story lives in a restrictive culture, but she wishes she lived in a society where women had more freedom. She struggles with her desire to belong to her family and her desire to have more choices. The Three Musketeers might also be a good book (actually, it's a series of 6 books which are all good). It deals with a young boy who struggles to belong in the elite group of the king's musketeers.
stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Giver" would be another illustration of what it means to "belong" in the sense of being controlled by an outside force, in this case the community of elders who make all decisions for residents of this highly controlled society. As Jonas becomes aware of all that he is missing because there is no sense of personal and voluntary "belonging" in the community, he is forced to make some very radical decisions.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As far as multicultural literature goes, read Bless Me, Ultima by Rodolfo Anaya.  It is the story of a young boy in the American southwest in the 1940s as he struggles to figure out who he is as a Catholic, a Latino, and an American.  The theme of belonging is central to the story and a good read as well.  Small parts of the novel are in Spanish, just fyi.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat explores the idea of belonging in Haiti in a sugar cane farm setting surrounded by political upheaval with belonging defined by word pronunciation. Though not an entertainingly enjoyable book, it may be considered culturally and historically important.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of my favorite about "belonging" is Germinal by Emile Zola. It is about a drifter that seems the deplorable conditions miners are living in and he tries to make a difference. Amazing example of Naturalistic fiction.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I highly recommend Kate Chopin's "La Bella Zoraide," a very powerful and moving story.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I highly recommend Kate Chopin's "La Bella Zoraide," a very powerful and moving story.

wanderista | Student

Just adding a few more, some of the Star Trek: Voyager novels, especially Caretaker really emphasise belonging. Also, novels like The Giver, As You Like It - William Shakespeare, and even some younger reader novels like Skellig or Holes.

itadra2 | Student
Thanks to all who answered! I'll be looking into all the texts that were mentioned!