INTRODUCTION: How do we identify home?
In my essay, I wrote about what home means and the struggles many refugees face when fleeing to other countries in hopes of safety. I used the film Beasts of the Southern Wild to get my message across. As you read, I’d like you to think about how you view home, and how we treat and think about refugees who’ve lost their homes.
ADVANCED ESSAY #2: HOME: AN EXTENSION OF SELF
In a brightly lit room, white walls and shutters take place in the background, along with a light pink toy set. Two young white girls in dresses stand towards the back of the photo. A white woman bends over to talk to a young black girl with fluffy brown hair pulled back out of her face. The young girl wears a pretty little blue dress with a white collar. Her face shows sadness and dissatisfaction. The girls name is Hushpuppy. When she’s home, you can tell she’s a free-spirited girl. She wears her hair out in a fro, a shirt, pants, and boots. She’s a wild little girl, whose spirit is being suppressed at the hands of outsiders. People claiming that they know what’s best for her and her people by inserting themselves in the lives of those they don’t quite understand.
Of the various struggles refugees face during times of war and migrating to places of refuge, one big loss they experience is the feeling of home. They have had their home(s) torn away from them, whether that means their culture, their people, places, and or objects. Broken countries, homelands that no longer serve as a home but as a battlefield. “Sometimes you can break something so bad that it can’t be put back together,”(Beasts of the Southern Wild). Losing home is a fight against one’s identity.
In the film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, the viewer watches as Hushpuppy and her father fight for their home, the Bathtub. The Bathtub is a swampy part of New Orleans that gets the worst hits of storms due to it being below sea level. In the film, they go through some similar struggles that refugees go through. As a large storm was getting ready to sweep over New Orleans, the people of the Bathtub had to choose whether or not they were going to evacuate or stay in the attempt to rebuild after the storm hit. Most of the people leave, but Hushpuppy, her dad, and a few others stayed to fight.
As home is often associated with a house, the truth is, the two are not always interchangeable as some people’s houses are nests of negativity. Places they may be seeking asylum from. When addressing home, it is meant as the attachment to these things. These places, people, objects, and ideas. It is when they give off a feeling of love, nostalgia, and comfortability, can one consider something a home. Home is often also a thing through which ones culture thrives.
It can be extremely hard to keep your culture and cultural practices pristine when you migrate to somewhere with different cultures. You can easily lose your cultural identity if you are trying to escape from a reality, which is the case for many refugees seeking asylum from dangerous conditions. In Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hushpuppy says, “MY daddy says if he gets too sick to drink beer and catch catfish, I should stick him on a boat and set him on fire so they don’t plug him into the wall.” This quote illuminates the will of her father and her people that most others may not be able to relate to. In the film, they fought for their home. Their culture and their people. Hushpuppy’s father tells her what he wants done to him before others who don’t understand what kind of life they lead, to get their hands on him. This was his way of keeping his culture in the midst of devastation.
Similar to Beasts of the Southern Wild, refugees experience rips in their homeland. Whether it be at the hands of their own governments ill governing and enforcement/infliction of their rules and ideals, natural disaster, etc… Refugees must choose in what way they will cope with the present conditions. Will they attempt to flee? Seeking sanctuary in other places, hoping to find a new life, a new home, apart from their poisoned country. Or, will they fight? Putting themselves on the front line, using their voices and their bodies to fight back.
Once in a new place, in most cases of refugees who are undocumented, they are treated as illegal entities. Not human beings, fleeing from death, looking for a life beyond the restrictions of their country. As they move away from their country, they move away from the only home(s) they knew. In their country, they had a life and in their life, they had a home(s). The truth of the matter for most refugees is that they are not always welcomed into countries like America, where you are stripped of your title as human and put into a box labeled with misconceptions and stereotypes. Leading to an ongoing difficult life-path.
As we go through life, we come across countless homes. Extensions of ourselves. A home is a beautiful thing through which life can thrive. We must cherish our home(s) and we must ensure that we allow for others to do the same.
Zeitlin, Ben, director. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2012.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild (Blu-Ray).” DVD Talk, www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/58625/beasts-of-the-southern-wild/.