The Lost Thing Essay

Words: 1101
Pages: 5

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
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The detailed industrial pipe work is everywhere, the buildings and concrete slabs are old and decaying with rusted pipe sticking out at odd angles. The city looks worn out and tired, a mirror of its inhabitants. The use of stamps and stickers, “The Federal Department of Censorship” for example, on the front and back covers and title page of the book give the feeling of the book being a product of the world which the boy comes from. From this I can conclude that the words and illustrations are interconnected.
Shaun Tan makes some very interesting comments on the effect of belonging, and the fundamental urge of the characters in his book to achieve this. The boy has connections with various people in the book and this gives him a sense of belonging, for example the illustration of him and Pete sitting on the roof top with the Lost Thing shows a relaxed friendship. Also his relationship with his parents, although detached, helps give him a sense of security and he clearly belongs there. Tan suggests that imaginations are suppressed in this world, only available to the young. Ultimately, the sense of belonging that the boy feels is at the expense of his curiosity and imagination. By comparison, the creature is completely at odds with the world around it. It appears to have no language, purpose or function, and therefore could find no connections with the inhabitants of the world around it. It is ignored and rejected which results in a negative impact on