The experience of belonging spans a multitude of perceptions and connections for humans. Even a tenuous link to some group, family or organisation, helps to create, within an individual, their own sense of identity and self-empowerment. Belonging is a like 'place' where someone feels accepted, valued and safe. Three texts that explore the theme of belonging are the novel "Jasper Jones", by Craig Silvey, the autobiography screenplay, "Mao's Last Dancer" by Li Cunxin and the poem, "Refugee Blues" by WH Auden. This essay explores the cultural conflicts that can arise through welcome or unwelcome change in a person's lives, seen through the eyes of Li Cunxin, Charlie Bucktin and two refugees.
In common, all three individuals experience cultural conflict as their lives and sense of belonging change. Charlie, in Jasper Jones, becomes less secure in his belonging to his home environment and community "I don't understand a thing about this world: about people, and why they do the things they do. The more I find out, the more I uncover, the more I know, the less I understand." As Charlie gradually begins to understand the world of Jasper Jones, he questions his own values and the honesty and truthfulness of the community to which he has always belonged. As Charlie eyes are opened to the racism and hidden violence that exists is his community, he is directly influenced in his view of his own place in the community. .
The cultural conflict is highly visible as he sees racism through the eyes of Jasper and Jeffrey. By comparison, Li Cunxin, in Mao's Last Dancer, faces a changing sense of belonging and cultural conflict as he explores a new world around him through his success in ballet and his discovery of the western world. Through his extraordinary talent and years of hard work, Li is able to make choices. "I knew now, with sudden shock, that I could never go back to the life I used to have.