In Romulus, My Father, focus is placed on several different foundations for which our identity, and in turn our sense of belonging, is formed. The memoirs emphasis on setting and place acts as a metaphor to reflect Gaita’s orientation of self, which contextualises and explores the challenges of diaspora, and provides a framework for the text’s central tenet, that from suffering, wisdom is gained. Consequently, the autobiographical nature of Gaita’s memoir provides the subjective parameters by which Romulus’ formative conditions of deprivation and betrayal shape his and his son’s sense of Self.
The autobiography offers an unmediated and stabilising exploration of the Self.
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Each of these encounters inform Obama with a sense of identity, which gives him the courage to strive for belonging.
Although the memoir aims to strip away the mythology of Romulus, the main focus of the text is Raimond Gaita’s discovery of Self, which becomes clear to the reader through the cyclical structure of Romulus’ life. This suggests that although Gaita’s father stays the same, the true change occurs in Raimond.
The theory that wisdom and the formation of one’s identity are a result of suffering, is one explored throughout Romulus, My Father.
During Gaita’s journey through life, much of the anguish that he experienced came from when the familiar transformed into the unfamiliar. For example, both his father’s madness and his mother’s mental illness and eventual suicide made Raimond resilient, and successful in his migration to Australia.
Raimond also learns considerably from the wisdom that his father has gained through suffering. We never forget how Romulus came from a fractured and divided Europe, where he experienced a lack of food and education. He was, however, nourished by these hardships, and through them his spirit became strong, hard like the steel he tempered. He became a man of character.
The film Big Fish, by “unknown director”, is also an example of a son’s discovery of identity through the understanding of his father. Because Will’s dad lives in a heightened sense of reality, Will finds it incredibly difficult to communicate with him. However, as evident in the extract “A man sees things differently at different times in his life,” which is given a sense of gravity by the innocence and youth of the speaker, Jenny, Will is able to finally reconcile these differences and gain wisdom from his late father.
The quote “My father must have been heartbroken by his unfaithful wife” further illustrates through emotive language the intense suffering that Romulus was subject to.
The text culminates with the quote “some...