Good afternoon/morning HSC students. My name is Armin Greder the illustrator of ‘The Island’ One of the ideas that I have always been fascinated in, is the interaction between individuals and society and how this influence’s our sense of belonging. My picture book ‘the island’ works metaphorically to show how social repression, fear and madness can create a context where those who are different are demonized, isolated and persecuted. In Arthur Miller’s famous play ‘the crucible’ the condemnation of others in Salem is based on revenge, jealousy and a misplaced sense of justice which makes our quest to belong much more difficult.
An individual’s sense of belonging is based on society and the values reflected by that society. It is human nature to reject things that are not normal or does not fit in with our sense of reality. In our society, this can be based on visual appearance or fears about difference which will in turn, determine whether a person belongs, or does not belong. This was portrayed in my text through the suffering of the strange man who arrived on the island. Almost instantaneously, he was rejected and discriminated by the villagers living on the island due to his weak and horrifying appearance.
The villagers were terrified on the man because they had a fear of difference and were compromised by social fear which affected their sense of belonging. I wanted to emphasis that the man did not belong, hence he was forced to live in a goat pen on the uninhabited part of the island. To reinforce the fact he did not belong, I drew him naked symbolizing that he is weak, harmless and vulnerable. His vulnerability was further symbolized with the contrast in size between him and the villagers since they were much bigger than him forming an imposing presence indicative of how we feel when presented with fears which overwhelms us.
You may be familiar with Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’ which uses a symbol in its title much like my work to intensify the way that social change exerts pressure on individuals. Whereas ‘the island’ symbolizes loneliness, the crucible refers to the ‘heat’ generated by the witchcraft accusations. In both instances the underlying force of disruption is fear. If you take Abigail Williams for example, she uses her power to strike back against the way she has been rejected and disempowered.
Dramatic conflict comes from her threatening words to the other girls’ I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you’ this silences the voices of opposition and ensures that the sense of belonging of characters such as Mary Warren, Proctor and Rebecca Nurse is destroyed by hatred. Just as I tried to show how fear is projected on to the naked man, so too does Miller reveal the need to a social outlet for repressed desires and resentments. The idea of certain individuals being willing to throw away their sense of belonging to do what is morally right has always interested me.
In Miller’s play, Proctor attempts to name Abigail as a fraud and tried to save his wife from being falsely accused through Mary Warren’s testimony. When that fails, he sacrifices his pride by confessing his guilt and condemning Abigail as a whore. Ultimately due to a misplaced sense of justice, Proctor was arrested and set to be hanged for witchcraft. In the end, Proctor belongs to his own values as he chooses truth over lies. He makes peace with himself and decides to die than sign a false confession to save his name in order to achieve a sense of purpose stating: “because it is my name! ecause I cannot have another in my life! how may I life without my name? ” hale also throws away his sense of belonging in society since he was a honest man and his conscience alienates him from the court which he emotionally denounces ‘I denounce these proceeding! I quit this court! ” in Act 4, hale no longer wishes to live, but to save the accused to lessen his guilt. ’ There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head? ” The fisherman in my text was inspired by the heroic actions of Hale and John Proctor.
The fisherman is shown that he does not feel concerned about his own sense of belonging but he cares more about the other’s. the fisherman in contrast to the island, has morality and compassion for those who are disempowered. When the strange man was discriminated for his difference, the fisherman stood up for him and tried to help him achieve a sense of belonging. Ultimately his fate was similar to John Proctor’s as he too, was persecuted due to a misplaced sense of justice. It is my hope that through my picture book, I can others how easily how sense of belonging may be affected by social repression, fear and madness.