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Belonging is often referred to as acceptance and interconnection within social,

cultural, historical and personal contexts of the wider community. This makes an
individual feel comfortable and content to live among similar people. This is
explored in the film Bend it like Beckham by Gurinda Chaddah, where Jess the
protagonist is torn with two different cultures, traditional Indian Sikh culture and
modern western culture that alters her sense of belonging over time. Similarly,
in the novel, Who am I by Anita Heiss, Mary is stuck between two different
cultures, an aboriginal culture and modern white culture which creates a conflict
in her mind about her real identity and a sense of belonging.
Firstly, Physical closeness helps individuals to depict their love and increasing
comfort zone towards each other, thus strengthening their sense of belonging.
This is represented through the use of different types of music such as in the
goodbye scene where Jess is hugging Joe, that time traditional Indian music is
played and the slow pace of the music displays Jess is carefully thinking about
her Indian values and culture by not letting Joe kiss her. But at the end of the
scene on the airport western fast pace of music You make me feel is played
when they are kissing each other highlighting they overcame their barriers of
different culture and tradition as kissing is not allowed in Indian culture before
marriage. Thus, portrays she has transformed from being an Indian girl to Joes
girlfriend and accepted western culture in order to feel a sense of belonging. This
clearly reveals after kissing Joe and Jess connection and love is strengthened.
Furthermore, different tradition and cultural values can act as a barrier towards
Individuals sense of belonging. This is displayed in the movie through the use of
different costumes, representing different cultural values. When Jess is wearing a
red colour sari at the start of goodbye scene she stops Joe from kissing her
because in Indian culture red colour symbolizes purity. This depicts, she hasnt
still accepted western culture fully but on the airport Jess wears western clothes
and allows Joe to kiss him. Hence, it demonstrates she has accepted western
culture and Joe regardless of similarities and differences. This highlights different
culture can play major role in shaping an Individuals sense of belonging.
In addition, a sense of not belonging can be created through making an
Individual change their real identity and not accepting their differences. This is
portrayed in the novel, Who Am I? through the use of repetition of the word
Mum and dad, "They said I could call them Mum and Dad but I feel strange about
that cos I have a mum and dad". This shows the protagonist
wasn't asked for her choice and she didn't want to leave "Matron rose and all the
kids". Her new mum and dad wanted to transform her from Aboriginal to white
by making her forget her real identity and parents, but she did not want to
change her identity. Thus, she felt like "This place is not my home" as she wasn't
accepted the way she was and she didn't feel like a member of the new family.
Hence, created a sense of not belonging towards Sam and Sophie who were
strangers to her. This provides evidence that a sense of not belonging can
emerge from forcing an individual to transform their identity.
Moreover, an Individual's interaction with others can enrich their experience of
belonging. This is conveyed in the novel through the use of inner monologue, "I
think they really love me and want me to be happy even though I'm not their real
daughter" (p.161) depicts the narrator has started to change her perception
about her new family. As the protagonist spends more time with her new family,

she realises they really care for her which helps her to accept them as her new
loving family. This exemplifies new experiences can aid in helping Individual to
feel a sense of belonging.
Overall, the novel, "Who am I" and film, "Bend it like a beckham" depicts
persona's fluctuating feelings towards a sense of belonging to western culture.
The film and the novel portray belonging as a connection strengthen by sharing
experiences and accepting identity where once differences and similarities are
accepted and respected. The both texts depict that acceptance can create
intimacy, however rejection can result into segregation.