The Arrival - Shaun Tan

Topics: Feeling, Family, World Pages: 5 (1941 words) Published: May 27, 2013
The Arrival - Shaun Tan
Where the text came from
The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images, it was illustrated by Shaun Tan in 2006. Purpose of text
The fact that Shaun Tan grew up in Perth, he said was one of the main reasons for making so many novels based on the concept of belonging, he describe Perth as being one of the most isolated cities in the world, sandwiched between a vast desert and a vaster ocean, and they lived in a “freshly minted northern suburb that was devoid of any clear cultural identity or history”. Also, being half-Chinese, Tan was subject to racism and being consistently asked ‘where are you from’, he had a sense of separateness, and an unclear notion of identity and not understanding what it is to be ‘Australian’ or ‘un-Australian’. He has also talked about that the ‘problem’ of belonging is perhaps more of a basic existential question that everybody deals with time to time. It especially rises to the surface when things ‘go wrong’ with our usual lives, when something challenges our comfortable reality or defies our expectations. Tan has said this is what was going on in his mind when working on The Arrival, a book which deals with the theme of migrant experience, moving to a strange land, to a new life in an unseen country. Who would be the intended audience for the text?

The target audience is immigrants who can relate to this book, although there is no particular audience as it can relate to everyone for the book questions every day experiences, with illustrations that draw people in so they can interpret it in their own ways based on their feelings, ideas and personal background and experiences.

What it says about belonging
The Arrival effectively conveys the feelings of isolation, belonging (and the desire to belong), the long process of integration and establishing a sense of familiarity, security and friends. The arrival tells the story of a young father and husband, who leaves his family and home behind to search for a better life for his family. Although we get the feeling that his home is under threat dur to the black dragon like tails weaving throughout the houses, we know that he is leaving behind his sense of belonging to his family and most likely friends, although this is not illustrated in the book. He moves to a world full of shadows and wonder, where very little seems familiar to him, with each person having their own fantastical creature, which is simply ordinary to them, and boats that sail in the sky. The feeling of isolation, confusion, disconnection and overall not belonging, is very obvious here. The protagonist finds it difficult to adjust to this new world and lifestyle, having problems with language barriers; he finds it hard to get a job and even somewhere to live. He later begins to work in a factory, in an assembly line, sorting things into piles. During this time, he meets people with stories on how they got to this world, which almost all of the people are also immigrants. Although he is starting to adjust to this new lifestyle, while slowly developing a sense of security and friends, he obviously still misses his wife and daughter. The man often sent his daughter a letter, folding it into a paper crane. After some time both his wife and child join him in the new world, after a while his family settle down and start to feel as though they belong in this world. Gradually, the male protagonist ends up directing the other ‘new people’ on where to go and what to do. Through the use of unique visual techniques within the novel, it is similarly conveyed the process as having the ability to evoke ones deepest strengths to overcome the challenges allowing the audience to view the ideas of a sense of home as well as formed relationships contributing to a sense of kinship

How ideas about belonging are expressed in the text
Lack of words – Without language we find ourselves in a strange land. There is little familiar to anchor us, there...
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