Relationships and experiences shape who we are as an individual and our sense of belonging, this is explored through Steven Herrick’s novel ‘The Simple Gift’. Herrick represents this idea through Billy’s journey discovering what it feels like to belong. Billy struggles to find a sense of belonging throughout the start of Herrick’s novel, the impact of relationships are shown through Caitlin and Old Bill’s friendship with Billy. Billy’s experiences throughout the novel also help him feel like he belongs, throughout Herrick’s book, Billy advances from a shy boy to a confident young adult who eventually feels as if he has a home and friends who love and care for him. The author uses a wide range of way to prove to the audience that your relationships with people and experiences that you have endured can shape your sense of belonging.
A sense of belonging is something that all humans need, just like food and water. A sense of belonging is demonstrated in Herrick’s novel ‘The Simple GIft’ through Billy’s relationships with the other characters. In the poem, ‘Champagne’ Billy quickly gets to the point of explaining to the readers what his relationship with his father is like. When calling his father an ‘Old Bastard’ it shows the readers that Billy and his father do not get along. Billy’s mother is also absent from his life as she is not mentioned at all in the book, this would affect Billy’s sense of belonging in many ways as he does not have a mother figure in his life to help him feel as if he belongs in a family. Billy feels no sense of belonging when living with his abusive father, to the point where he would rather be homeless than live in the house his father lives in.
Caitlin Holmes also affects Billy’s life and his sense of belonging throughout Herrick’s novel, when Billy states ‘”This morning I woke and I knew where I was going for the next few months – to the Library, to McDonald’s to the river and home here to the Hilton – a circuit of plans with Caitlin at the centre and me spinning crazily in her orbit” this uses symbolism referring to gravity as they are pulled together as gravity pulls you towards the earth.
Old Bill helps induce a sense of belonging in Billy’s life, they start as two people who live in the same carriage and eventually grow to be close friends who are always supporting each other, when Billy states “I hugged Old Bill like I’ve never hugged a man before sure that he’d saved my life.” it shows the readers that Old Bill helped Billy find somewhere he belongs and somewhere he can fit in without feeling like a burden. Relationships have a huge impact on people’s lives and help them find where they belong in the world and who they belong to.