Belonging and connections with people
A sense of belonging is a fundamental human need that can be formed from connections made with people. This can have a varying impact – both positive, for example in offering, security and/or enhancing self-esteem, and negative for instance, in the suppression of individuality. Those experiencing barriers to belonging, often due to being different, can also suffer a range of negative consequences such as unhappiness and alienation. The drive to belong and its varying consequences are well represented in Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, a nonsensical picture book about an imaginary creature lost in a retro/futuristic world. In the Lost Thing, the boy/persona has various connections with people in the text and this contributes to his sense of belonging in the context in which he lives. He is able to comfortably negotiate his way amongst the people he encounters. His friendship with Pete is represented by Tan as relaxed. They are both at ease with each other and their environment. This is shown in the image where they are both perched on a rooftop enjoying a conversation over a beverage. The two figures appear small and insignificant, blending into a sea of identical rooftops in a harmonious yet drab monochromatic colour scheme, in great contrast to the large and precariously balanced Lost Thing. Similarly, the boy is at ease in the lounge room with his parents, engaged in the mundane activity of eating crisps. His parents, despite verbal objections in the text to the Lost Thing, appear listless and accepting in their slumped postures on the lounge and the boy clearly belongs here. The boy’s acceptance in this society offers him security, a home, family and friends, but it comes at a price in the suppression of his curiosity, imagination and uniqueness. While he has an initial interest in the thing, he makes no effort to find out anything about the creature, its origins, and functions etc. Discovering that the thing is lost is...
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