The Rabbits

Topics: Australia, Indigenous Australians, White people Pages: 3 (723 words) Published: March 15, 2011
John Marsden and Shaun Tan

John Marsden’s award winning picture book, is a partly figurative story about colonisation, told from the viewpoint of the colonised. Marsden deeply explores the concept of belonging through powerful illustrations and key phrases.

I believe Marsden’s purpose of this pictorial children’s book is to convey at a children’s level the unfair and disturbing history of the colonization of Australia.

The misunderstanding and disrespect of cultures, destruction, conformity, clashing beliefs, misuse of power and loss of identity are all brought to the surface throughout the story and closely tie in with the belonging theme.

Shaun Tan has effectively used animals (rabbits and possums) to represent the whites and the indigenous Australian’s. Tan has carefully selected these animals in contrast with each other, rabbits being known to multiply prolifically and were an introduced ‘pest’ in Australia because of their destructive nature, making burrows, eating vegetation and in so doing, making the land useless. Possums, on the other hand are native to the land, living in tree tops and in the wild, being nocturnal and completely harmless to nature.

The illustrations are heavily symbolised and thoroughly thought through by Shaun Tan. The arrowed, expanding flags looking similar in shape to the ‘British Union Jack’. The introduced farm animals are illustrated in a way, hooked up to milking machines and have drawn outlines on them of the favoured “butchers cuts”.

Obviously the Indigenous Australian’s have a more harmonious relationship with the land and the native animals. The illustrations clearly reveal that there is little harmony, if any, in taking into consideration the traditional residents of the land. Whereas the Aboriginal’s are traditionally nomadic in culture where they don’t over resource or outstrip the land. On the other hand, the whites like to fence off the land, building permanent homes, resulting in over...
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