The Arrival, by Shaun Tan

The Arrival by Shaun Tan not only invites the responder to walk in other people’s shoes -- in particular migrants, but also it invites the responder to contemplate their own shoes as well. This is portrayed throughout the graphical novel by making the responder feel not only the hardships of the protagonist, but also gives them an insight into what it would be like to be a migrant themselves. This feeling of contemplation and empathy is achieved through a number of techniques from the start to the finish of The Arrival.
The image on the first title page of The Arrival, which shows the title in a foreign and unknown language, allows the responder to walk in the protagonists shoes, but also invites the responder to contemplate what it would be like to be a migrant themselves. The unknown language gives the responder an understanding of what it would feel like to go to a new home country where everything -- in particular the language, is completely foreign. This helps the responder understand the confusion and alienation that migrants face when confronting different cultures and languages.
Throughout the novel the protagonist meets other migrants who tell their stories. These stories are of the typical migrant, who have left their home because of lack of freedom, fear of prosecution or because of destruction due to war. These stories are portrayed through flashbacks. The dark backgrounds of these flashbacks symbolise as well as emphasises the horrors previously experienced by the migrants. This is also shown at the beginning with the dark dragon’s tails and dark backgrounds in the protagonist’s home land, this not only shows the responder why the protagonist has left his homeland, but also how the protagonist has made connections with these other migrants through similar stories and experiences.   The flashbacks give the responder knowledge into why migrants may have left their home country and result in the responder becoming not only empathetic as to why the...