Peter Skrzynecki demonstrates that experiences of the past can restrict ones inclusion into society. From the outset, the persona and his father are shown to possess contrasting attitudes towards assimilation into Australian society. Feliks’ creation of a safe and insular world within his garden is exemplified through hyperbole and simile of “loving his garden like an only child/He swept its paths, ten times around the world”. Feliks’ garden is his “polish microcosm” as it enables him to retain his cultural identity and represents the world he left behind. Moreover, Feliks’ strong connection to his past restricts his involvement with Australian traditions. This divide is reiterated through the condescending tone used when the department store clerk asks “in dancing bear grunts” if Feliks “ever attempted to learn English”. Though Feliks separates himself from Australian culture, Feliks is shown to be “happy as [he] has never been.” Though external forces are essential in establishing a physical integration into the community, the affect of the past on Feliks’ internal state of mind plays a greater role in his ability to assimilate.
Conversely, Feliks’s son is shown to reject his heritage in order to embrace his new homeland. The persona is unable to connect culturally to Feliks and this results in a paradoxical difference in ideals between the pair. The child is alienated from his father’s heritage and does not understanding the Polish friends who “always shook hands too violently”. Moreover, the persona’s dislocation from his polish heritage is reinforced through the exclusive pronoun “they”. The growing chasm between himself and his father is exemplified when, “At 13/I forgot my first polish word”, and further reinforces his loss of cultural connection. Further, this disconnection is epitomised through the extended metaphor of Hadrian’s Wall, “and the pegging my tents further and further south”. Here, the son acknowledges his physical and mental assimilation into Australian society while his father watches on with lachrymosity like a “dumb prophet”. Hence, Skrzynecki acknowledges that the concept of belonging is paradoxical as it necessitates the self-destruction of individualism in order to attain cultural inclusivity and acceptance.