Fran’s father

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It appears as if he desires to remain alone in order to detach from society as he often sabotages his own attempts to end his loneliness. An example of his desired solo status is when Holden scores a date with the character Sally Hayes, he deliberately sabotages it with his outrages and inappropriate behavior towards her. The date ends with Sally Hayes being scared off by Holden’s behavior and thus illustrates Holden’s constant need to remain alone as a way of protecting himself, Just as he wears his hunting hat to advertise his uniqueness and therefore, expressing his individuality.

The red hunting hat is one of the most recognizable symbols. It signifies Holden’s desire to be different and his rebellion against the pressures to live life according to socially prescribed rules when he states “I shoot people with this hat”. The color red is significant as it connects Holden with his red-headed siblings, Allie and Phoebe with whom he associates it with innocence and. Therefore, as evident in both strictly ballroom and the catcher in the rye, both characters were disconnected from society on their individual journeys to discover a sense of identity as well as a sense of belonging which lead to their self-fulfillment.

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A key to acceptance can be the key to belonging. The gradual interaction and acceptance of an individual’s surroundings can lead to a sense of inclusion and self-worth. Baz Luhrmann depicts this idea of self- acceptance mainly through the characters of Scott and Fran. Scott has to balance his desire to win with a need for individuality and creativity. As he progresses through the film, he overcomes pressures and obstacles in his way and finds the courage to dance his own steps with Fran at the Pan-Pacific’s.

However, it is through his gradual interaction with Fran, ‘the ugly duckling’, that develops his sense of self-worth and fulfillment throughout the film. So how does Fran’s interaction and connection with Scott lead to his self-fulfillment and acceptance? Well, Fran is the only character that admires Scotts dancing style from the very beginning. She is shown in the first scene in a mockumentary comment as she quotes “ I thought that what they danced was wonderful. I thought that they should have won”. This statement is seen as ridiculous because of the conflicting responses of the other ballroom dancers.

Furthermore, When Scott takes lessons from rico (Fran’s father), the family joins together with Scott and Fran in promoting their success. The family and Scott find a new sense of belonging as they are united in purpose. These scenes are all presented naturalistically, which indicates to us, as the audience, that this is ‘reality’. This gradual interaction provides Scott a sense of inclusion and acceptance in the end, by the boundless generosity received from Fran as well as the Spanish community and is seen as the beginning of Scotts transformation.

We, see their slow focused movements, giving a sense of true belonging, and thus, acceptance of both Scott and Fran’s struggle to identify themselves and their purpose, only then do they attain a sense of fulfillment. Consequently, in the picture book, ‘The red Tree’, by Shaun Tan , the nameless girl takes on a different journey to self- acceptance and a sense of self- worth. As the little girl experiments with different ways of dealing with her feeling of isolation such as waiting, singing, acting, drawing we see she is searching for something more, but ironically this search can actually create more of a void.

If taken in its entirety, there seems to be a journey from not belonging to belonging, a sense of reconciliation with the world she inhabits. The symbolic feature in this picture book is the red leaf which floats humbly throughout the pages as it represents the notion of hope. The journey of the silent girl at the heart of each image wonders aimlessly through a world she feels isolated from. Her sense of ennui is seen as ‘wonderful things’ pass her by; her search for herself and her place in this world is recreated metaphorically in the imaginary landscapes she finds herself in, this is seen as her gradual interaction with nature.

This image explores the girls self-worth, which is in a fragile state. She still functions in this world, seen through her occasional attempts at communication, but cannot come to a complete reconciliation with herself and her place within it. Her instability is a direct result of her struggle to belong to a place. The symbolic gesture of drawing herself on the wall reveals a loss of connection to who she is meant to be, and consequently a loss of purpose and identity.

The modality of this image is low, mirroring the uncertainty felt by the girl; the decontextualized background reinforces the lack of purpose she is experiencing. The book reveals belonging as a fundamental human need through her continual search; self-worth is essential to our development as individuals. Thus, Shaun Tan places us, as the readers in contact with the struggle of acceptance that an individual may experience in finding ones place in today’s busy world. Conclusively, the discovery and acceptance of oneself can therefore be argued to lead to self-fulfillment.

These connections allow a person to be humane and to face challenges and overcome barriers within society. Baz Luhrmann, David Jerome Salinger and Shaun Tan, utilize these themes using a variety of techniques to effectively convey their ideas of belonging. It can be further determined that as writer John O’Donohue once said “The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true”.


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