Shaun Tan The Buffalo Analysis

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The Lonesome Buffalo with the Magic Hoof

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea”-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Shaun Tan’s Tales from Outer Suburbia, was introduced globally to readers in 2008. Shaun Tan is a writer and illustrator; he is a Chinese national who lives in Australia. In his book, Tan writes a compilation of short abstract stories, all putting the reader through the experience of “the Other” and the hardships of being accepted and understood in society. The short story “The Water Buffalo” conveys a powerful allegory about youth, life indifference and our excursions through experiences both anticipated and unanticipated. This is evident through Tan’s use of creative symbolism and diction.

Tan conveys a powerful allegory about youth through creative symbolism. Tan uses the the water buffalo to depict a wise old man who endures isolation. He lives in a vacant lot with grass that no one ever mows and he also lacks communication skills and does not speak, which symbolizes how he chooses to be alone since he would presumably require immense concentration and quietness to maintain his wisdom. However, he helps those in need of guidance or wisdom by simply pointing his hoof to the direction he believes to be right. His directions and advice are a symbolism of the cold reality; he never considered the fantasy that those who came to him had. The
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