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The Arrival Analytical Task

Write a short essay in which you put forward your ideas about Tan’s depiction and/or exploration of the subject. Elements of surrealism The elements of surrealism present throughout ‘The Arrival’ are essential in developing Tan’s various messages. Shaun Tan has included various elements of surrealism throughout ‘The Arrival’ to enforce many meanings about the different perspectives about migration. Surreal aspects are symbolic of many themes in the picture book, such as danger from the shadowy and dragon-like tails. It is also important in enhancing the many meanings of the protagonist’s journey. His companion animal, definitely a surreal being, is important in the reflection of his friendship. Surrealism itself is a symbol of the unknown, the many mysteries encountered through any journey of migration. The protagonist appears in a world surreal to both him and us, making us see things from the perspective of a migrant. The incorporation of surrealism into his home in the scene when he reunites with his family, the second page of part 6, is symbolic of the familiarity of the unknown after a year, also reflecting the stage beyond migration, since it is his daughter who guides others at the conclusion of ‘The Arrival’. Surrealism is very effective in directly representing basic emotions and ideas, and also pictorially emphasising them. The first one we see are the shadowy dragon tails which roam around the protagonist’s old city, most prominently depicted in the double plate where the protagonist and his family leaves their house. The spiky tails completely envelop the city, directly representative of the danger and also the gloom which has descended upon the city. Like above, surrealism is effective because while they are clearly unrecognizable, they still retain recognizable elements which instantly suggest such ideas or emotions. Another important surreal symbol is the sunbursts present in the latter half of the book. Like the previous, it is also a recognizable but undistinguishable surreal symbol which represents happiness. Elements of surrealism exist in everything the protagonist encounters after his arrival into the new world. The process of migration are foreign to both us and the protagonist. In the twelve frames of the protagonist, who is covered with strange stickers, being unable to understand what another person is telling him, Shaun tan uses universal gestures along with surreal elements to convey this to us. His travelling via a balloon into a recognizable and unrecognizable city is also representative of the confusion of being a migrant. The surreal language in the new world used by Shaun Tan in ‘The Arrival’ enforces the idea of language breakdown through universal gestures and actions. Everything, including walls, buildings, airships, even the maps he reads, are covered by undistinguishable, surreal letters. This is representative of the stages of the breakdown of language barriers through gestures. When the woman helps him, they communicate through universal gestures, which is what Shaun Tan wants to depict. In the scene when he dines with an immigrant’s family, they connect through gestures, music, and the giving of gifts, originating from the surreal language used by the new world. Thus, surreal language is effectively used in Tan’s idea of breaking down the barriers of language and communication.

Another significant factor concerning companion animals is that every other migrant. both literally and metaphorically as the protagonist struggles to embrace the new aspects of his new world. and conveys the deep mutual bond between all living beings. This bond is significant because it shows the possible relationship between two completely foreign beings. This is further reflected at the first page of part 3 when his companion creature is right in front of him in a close-up shot in the first 6 frames and then their close positioning in the next.The bonding between a migrating human and a strange creature is shown through the Tan’s use of surrealism. It first appears hidden in a strange jar near the end of part 2 and through the protagonist’s curious gaze and the creature’s confused facial expression as they see each other properly for the first time. His most important and effective use of surrealism is in using them as companions to migrants. He has directly symbolized the surreal as the unknown during the experience of being a migrant. suggesting their instant bonding. as well as used in depicting a variety of messages. Surrealism is representative of basic emotions and themes. from the girl who helps him in buying a ticket to the men who he plays a game with. and also the need for companionship. conveying the need of companionship in a foreign world. unlike dragons. Shaun Tan’s message through this use of surrealism is to convey the bond formed with any two beings. who has a different story with similar principles. unidentifiable in our current society and also nameless. shown when the companion’s animal is always a step ahead of the protagonist. . also has a companion animal. however different they are. The protagonist’s companion is a surreal creature. for example. such as the breakdown of language barriers. into any situation. later depicted through his companion’s following of the protagonist everywhere. Shaun Tan’s different uses of the idea of surrealism throughout ‘The Arrival’ conveys many meanings about the different aspects of the novel. such as escape from danger or poverty. When having a companion is made universal in this new world.