Home sweet home?

On the first day of class Professor Boes asked us what home means to us. A response I found particularly intriguing said something along the lines of “home is a place where you have a job to do and somewhere you belong”. Watching Heimat, I instantly remembered this comment. This definition of home is especially relevant because in Heimat we see how a home transcends a physical location. This was apparent to me when Apollonia and Paul are talking and Appollonia tells Paul how he is unlike the village people like her, does not belong there, should leave with her.

Isn’t Schabbach Paul’s home? He trekked from France for six days to return from the World War. When he first arrives, Paul immediately begins to help his father assemble a wheel. That action seemed so routine and familiar that Paul appeared to belong there next to his father. But soon after it becomes clear that Paul doesn’t fit perfectly in Schabbach. He is desperately trying to achieve something important like assembling his wireless. He does not want to assume the work his father does and so he obsesses and focuses on finding connections to places away from Schabbach.

This hobby piqued my interest. The title of this first episode is “The Call of Far Away Places” and Paul seems to be physically listening for a call from far away places in hopes of finding a place he belongs better than Schabbach or in other words a new “home”. Before the end of the first episode I do not think Paul fully realized, or acknowledged, the fact that he changed while he was away so his previous home was not the same when he returned. Accepting that fact is challenging because often times, I think of home as an unchanging or eternal place where you belong. I believe this is why Paul denies Appollonia’s offer to run away together because he did not want to admit Schabbach was not the same, he was not the same, and he did not belong there any longer.

I felt a similar emotion when I went back home for fall break. I felt almost as if I did not belong at home, or belong as well as I did before leaving for college. Prior to returning home, I imagined all the familiar things I would be greeted by when I returned. Contrary to my beliefs and hopes, things were a little different. My world back “home” was not unrecognizable or completely turned upside down, but different. I felt a little alienated, like Paul, in a place I would never have imagined feeling uncomfortable. After returning from break and watching this episode, I have come to the realization that the relationship between home and me is more dynamic than static.

As we all know, the journey away from and back “home” is a main focus of the texts we have/will read. Heimat is no different. I think it is important we keep in mind the relationship between Paul and Schabbach and reevaluate what we think “home” means as we watch more of Heimat. So I will pose the question again: what is home? Do we need to have a position/role to belong somewhere? Why is having a “home” important?

This entry was posted in Heimat, Student Generated. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Home sweet home?

  1. Kaitlin says:

    I agree with what you say about Paul. In this episode, he seems on edge almost the entire time. He’s constantly searching for the outside world, yet he doesn’t escape with Apollonia when he has the chance.

    I believe at the end of the episode, Paul finally comes to terms with the fact that he doesn’t belong in Schabbach anymore. He disappears out of town, to who knows where. Perhaps he’ll return in the next episode, but maybe he won’t.

    I find your interpretation of home to be interesting, and I agree in part. It did feel strange going back home, as if I didn’t belong. And so yes, home is dynamic. However, I feel as if it almost as a sort of static entity as well, because in my opinion part of what makes home “home” are the people that are there. Yes, they change, but they are still more or less the same people. Perhaps I have a unique perspective because I’ve never actually lived in one of the places I (kind of) call home, but maybe other people have an experience like that?

    Bringing this back to Heimat, do you think that part of Paul’s restlessness is that he had friends who didn’t come back with him? That they were what made this place home to him and without them it just couldn’t be the same?

  2. Allie says:

    One thing I couldn’t help thinking while I was watching this episode was that Paul’s concept of home changed because he himself had changed– as could be said for all of our different feelings at home during break. As we know from current experience seeing veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan come home, movies, books, ect., war has the unbelievable ability to change people. The symptoms of PTSD that can be seen in Paul’s demeanor especially in the beginning of the episode may point to the reason Paul’s home seems so alien to him; he has now seen and experienced things in the past years that have changed his entire perception of the world around him. Its the same for the idea that Jina presents about our return home for break… it may not be so much that home or our concept of home has changed but that our outlook on life has changed after these first few months at ND. Yay college! 🙂

  3. Ivana Surjancev says:

    Initially, I was shocked by Paul’s manner of leaving Schabbach. I agree that Paul did not consider Schabbach to be his home, but he seemed to leave too suddenly, without even hinting that he would disappear. To consider this sudden disappearance, I first thought about how Jina stated that Paul didn’t leave with Appollonia because he didn’t want to admit to himself that he had changed or that his home was different. Because he was uncertain at that time it makes sense that he didn’t leave. However, when the wires of his radio/wireless were destroyed by the marten, he may have finally seen that as a symbol that he really didn’t belong in Schabbach.

    At this point, it still seems unreasonable that Paul would’ve made his mind up to leave in just one night after such an incident. Then when I saw the empty trap at the end of movie, I realized that there may have never been a marten at all. What if Paul cut the wires as a sign of realization that he had to leave? He may have finally realized that Schabbach and his family were of lesser importance than his desire to accomplish something special in life.

    If this were the case of Paul’s departure, then I feel that the definition of home we should consider in Heimat is one that describes it as a place where you have a purpose or a job that you feel is important. Although home can be defined in different ways, such as it being a place where the family is (as Kaitlin said), this definition does not seem to apply in Heimat because Paul leaves Schabbach despite having his family there.

  4. Cristina says:

    Along with Ivana, I was kind of taken aback at how quickly Paul left Schabbach. Upon further pondering, could this just be a way to keep the episode concise? I understand that he probably figured that he didn’t see it as home but then that raises the question where does he consider home?
    As others have mentioned, I looked forward to fall break and going home and when I got there, there was definitely a different feel. I wasn’t that I didn’t belong there, but more that I didn’t have the same routine of going to school or work. I thought that my town had changed, but thinking about it I probably changed more than it did and by the end, I found myself looking forward to coming back to ND. I think that having a role here at college, as opposed to just visiting my family at home, definitely contributes to my feelings of home here but I don’t think that it is necessarily needed to consider a place home.
    Back to Ivana, I do think that part of Paul’s feelings were due to his friends who didn’t come back to him. When I look at home, it is more dependent on the people who are there as opposed to the physical location, which would alter Paul’s feelings of home.
    The concept of having a home is important because without it, where do you turn to for comfort? To me, a home represents a place you can go after a stressful time and completely unwind and without a place like that, wouldn’t you feel forever lost or wandering?

  5. Lindsey says:

    I agree with Ivana that the definition of home for Paul Simon seems to be a place where he has a purpose or job that he feels important, in the sense that Paul felt like he was being called somewhere. As Jina mentioned, the title, “The Call of Far Away Places” is important to the tale of Paul. One example of Paul searching for a far away place is at the picnic, when Paul sets up the radio and picks up “The Linden Tree” on the radio. As Paul is searching for these far away places, what is he purpose (if we agree that the idea of home is somewhere Paul has a job to do)? And if so, when Paul leaves Schabbach, what is his purpose? Is he trying to find a new home where he has a more important job?

  6. Megan says:

    I definitely agree that Schabbach can no longer be considered Paul’s home. He certainly has had some experiences that have changed him as a person, and this has changed his perspective on home. It makes sense to say that home is a place where you have a purpose to live out or a job to do, but I don’t think this can be the only factor. It’s true that Paul did not feel at home when he returned from the war because he didn’t have this sense of purpose, but at the same time, when he was at war he did have a specific job to do, although I’m sure Paul would never willingly go back to war if given the choice. Therefore, I agree with Cristina’s definition of home as a place where you can feel stress-free and just comfortable with yourself in general. Before Paul left for war, Schabbach may have been this type of home for him. But he has clearly changed now, although he most likely does not consider the World War I battleground as his home either. So if neither of these places where Paul has spent a good portion of his life are his home, then what is? I think the purpose of Paul’s running away as well as his attempts to connect to far-away places through the radio are his attempts to seek out a new home in a completely different place. He just hasn’t found it yet.

  7. Erin Rice says:

    Even within the first few minutes of the first episode, Paul’s unfamiliarity is extremely evident through the shots the camera covers. When the camera pans across the sky line of the buildings and then focuses on the interaction between the pig and the lambs the audience seems to be viewing these events through Paul’s eyes. The movement of the camera seems to be scanning the environment, as if Paul is trying to familiarize himself with his hometown. Think about when we enter a new place, what is the first thing we do? We check it out. As Jina mentioned, when Paul returns to Schabbach, he is a changed person due to his experiences during the war. Jina gave a great example relating Paul’s homecoming to a similar experience all us (or most of us) can relate to: returning home after being away at school for a few months. Home is still familiar, but different.

    I challenge you all to go to the South dining hall and look around at the walls. I don’t know if this is just me but I never noticed the murals of the people above the front entrances to the dining hall, and I would consider myself pretty observant. I thought I was extremely familiar with this place I’ve spent so much time in (considering the amount of time I spend eating… that’s a lot), but it wasn’t until I forced myself into an unfamiliar situation, getting Mexican food (which I had never done before), that I noticed how decorated the dining hall is. Similarly, Paul’s homecoming might’ve opened his eyes to these things he never cared to see before.

    I strongly agree with Jina and I really liked her use of examples, I think in our continuous attempts to understand Paul and his struggle to identifying himself with his home, we should try putting ourselves in him situation. I still feel like we are just skimming the top of the mini series and it’s hard to make any in depth analyses with having only seen the first episode. (Everyone knows the pilot episodes of series can be so different from the rest of the series… even though that doesn’t really apply to this series because American series are sooo different from this series). But regardless, I still think we have a lot more to learn about Paul’s relationship with him home.

  8. Erin Rice says:

    One more side comment, have we ever considered that maybe he has Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?

Comments are closed.