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?