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Belonging and Connections

            The connections that one forms with both individuals and the surrounding world have the ability to provide the individual with a sense of inclusion, security and acceptance. Such relationships also have the ability to rob them of individuality however, often causing changes in identity after altering personal beliefs and desires in pursuit of the natural human need to belong. Anh Do's 'The Happiest Refugee, a memoir of the life of a refugee, largely explores the latter notion, as well as the way in which the formation of these connections can challenge the perceptions of a society. A good example of the former concept however, is found within Holly Goldberg Sloan's 'Counting by 7s', a fictional text depicting an orphan genius girl, twelve years of age, whose surrogate parents are killed in a car accident. Through the varying exploration of varying personal, social and cultural barriers to belonging, the two texts explore the potential of familial bonds as well as connections with the wider world; concepts which are portrayed through various literary devices and modes of voice. Hence, both novels explore the benefits and detriments of relationships, and the way these bonds impact a sense of belonging. .
             Relationships forged with others can often lead to an emotional dilemma when forced to choose between either maintaining said bond or retaining the beliefs and desires which create one's individuality. This is made especially difficult when the connection shared is familial in nature. The depiction of Anh's relationship with his father within the prologue of Do's text serves as a perfect example of this concept. The reader is immediately confronted with the strained history between the two. Do continually makes use of personal pronouns such as "This guy", "the little Vietnamese prick" in place of affectionate terms such as "Dad" or "Father" in an effort to portray the anger and loathing he feel towards the man, mentally severing any emotional connections with him.

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