The Scapegoat, by Daphne du MaurierI have always wished I could somehow completely integrate myself into another culture.  I don’t think it’s really possible.  You can move to another country; with effort you can learn the language, possibly even to the point where strangers don’t realise you’re not a native speaker; you can develop close friendships, even raise a family–but your roots are not really there, you don’t really belong.

On my more melancholy days I feel a stranger even to my “home” culture, and an impossible yearning to belong even here.

Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat describes a man who shares my dream but gets to test it out.

I wanted neither my compatriots nor my own company, but instead the happiness, which could never be mine, of feeling myself one of them, bred and schooled amongst them, bound by some tie of family and blood that they would recognise and understand; so that, living with them, I might share their laughter, fathom their sorrow, eat their bread, no longer stranger’s bread but mine and theirs.

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And there was no answer, only a question mark.

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And the years that were gone, that I had no business to intrude upon, seemed to merge into a single entity, like the eggs and the butter and the herbs.  They could never be separated now, or examined one by one.  I was responsible for the persent, not the past.

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I was no longer isolated, watching apart, … but one among many, part of St. Gilles.

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