Immigration: Everyone’s Story

Shaun Tan depicts the common immigrant story in the most unique way I have ever seen. Creating a graphic novel without words is so amazing; it really proves that a picture is worth a thousand words. Even before going into the story, I noticed how the book is created like a worn out photo book. Also the inside covers has passport like photos of many different immigrants.

A man leaves his wife and daughter to immigrate to a better place. His hometown is under some kind of danger. The man only has a photo to remind him of his family. He goes by boat to a foreign land. His arrival to the new land reminds me of the immigration stories to New York. There is a statue of two people shaking hands. It is similar to the Statue of Liberty. The statue represents the unity of different cultures because it shows two different men shaking hands. The man goes through countless checkups and questioning before he receives he is permitted entry. He goes around trying to find a place to live with his limited knowledge of the language. What truly helps is his drawings and body language. His room is small just like the old tenement buildings of the lower east side in New York City. He meets other immigrants who share their story with him. Also the immigrants help him around town; they teach him how to use public transportation and what the best types of food are. The man goes around trying to find a job, eventually he ends up in a factory working with other immigrants who he befriends. Eventually he saves enough money to have his wife and daughter immigrate. In the end we see the daughter helping another immigrant that is lost. Immigration is like the circle of life. When one immigrates he receives help from past immigrants. Once he is settles down, he begins to help the new immigrants get accustomed to the land, and the cycle continues.

Tan’s world in the story combines both new and old items. The people’s clothes are old fashioned. On the contrary, the city has futuristic technology not even existent in 2011. There are flying boats used as public transportation and flying mailboxes. The world Tan created does not exist on earth. Tan even created his own language and his own types of animals. I believe Tan does this to show that immigration is a story that can happen to anyone anywhere at any time. I feel that Tan did an amazing job to show such a point. I enjoyed his graphic novel so much, and I believe it truly depicts an immigrant’s journey.