The Lost Thing Essay

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The need to feel a sense of belonging is a powerful and universal one. This sense is formed from connections made with others. The result can be a range of emotions, from an increase in the feeling of security and self esteem, to feelings of unhappiness and loneliness. When someone does not fit in, often because they are different, the negative emotions that they feel can be very harmful. The picture book The Lost Thing (2000), written and illustrated by Shaun Tan, explores the themes of belonging and alienation that occur in modern society. The story begins with a man trying to recall stories from his youth. The only one he can remember is about when he was a young boy and he discovers a gigantic, red, machine-like animal that is lost and alone at the beach. The boy takes pity on the creature and decides to try to find out where it belongs. The book is written in a simple and entertaining style, and while it is mainly a story for children, it has a deeper message about the power of bureaucracy, apathy, alienation and suppression of imagination. The Lost Thing is set in a retro-futuristic world where everything seems grey, dull and suffocating. The body language and facial features of the crowd reinforce these feelings. Given the uniform greyness of the landscape, it is all the more amazing that no one except the young boy notices the huge red creature. His friend Pete has no real solution to his problem of finding a home for the Lost Thing and his parents don’t even notice it until he points it out to them and even then they are not interested in being helpful or friendly. Shaun Tan is highlighting how society will often reject those that don’t fit in and may isolate and turn a blind eye to things that don’t belong or seem weird or different preferring to carry on with their boring and monotonous lives. The lines “nobody was very helpful,” “Too busy doing other stuff, I guess,” demonstrates these ideas. The boy decides to take the creature to the Federal...
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