The Arrival

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  • Published : November 29, 2012
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The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a graphic novel which follows the story of a man who embarks on the journey of migration. The notions of belonging that are highlighted in the text are belonging to a place and belonging to a family. The composer establishes these through the masterful employment of various visual techniques. One of the foremost themes of the novel is the concept of belonging to a place, in particular the connection to a homeland. A disturbance in the main environment signifies as the stimulating factor for the disruption of the man’s sense of belonging. There exists an fragmented sense of existence in the old land, something that is established primarily by the ominous, malicious serpent like figures that force the man’s departure and his search for a new way of life. Tan’s symbolic representation of the serpents as the threatening and severe influences in the early pages of the novel drives the man out of his homeland as it is is a source of unease and discomfort for his family. Upon entering the unknown land the man feels alienated from the new way of life that he is faced with. The author highlights this through the use of various shades of grey which are evidence of the shared melancholy of the migrants. Furthermore the positioning of all the migrants huddled up together reinforces the turmoil and hardship that they have collectively encountered. The use of dark and malicious tones and the overshadowing images of the technologically averse boat that towers over the migrants furthers their insignificance and defencelessness. The commonality with fellow migrants is carried throughout the novel and it soon becomes a source of solace for the man who is otherwise alien to the new world. Tan uses flashback scenes to illustrate the man’s opportunity to connect with his fellow migrants. Tan uses darker tones in the flashback scenes and the tumultuous journeys of the other migrants are elicited. Our protagonist is able to relate to...
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