Armin Greder’s picture book The Island is a powerful allegory that depicts fear of strangers and ignorance which satirises the majority’s exclusion from the unknown and highlights the importance relationships and communicates acceptance. The barriers which prevent acceptance are demonstrated in The Island widely through the differences of appearance. The islanders do not accept the protagonist’s dissimilarities and his ostracism is shown through the first double page. A small, vulnerable man stands naked and ultimately exposes his vulnerability and whose confused expression signifies disconnection to the environment.
The simplistic art shows how lonely the stranger is and the emphasis on the white proposes emptiness. This is juxtaposed with the satirical image on the next page, giving a sense of caricature of robust, homogenous, judging, threatening men that expose their enormity and conformity in a primitive society. The irony of farming tools being used as weapons instead of taking care of the land shows how xenophobic these people are and highlights the individual’s helplessness and the strength the pursuers have massed against him due to the fact that he is different.
Essentially, seeing the satirical and mocking contrast of the two images we are able to see that difference cannot be accepted into an ignorant, homogenous culture. The consequence of being in a bland society and having the security of being in a group is that it can affect a person and may obscure their personal opinions. Specifically when the fisherman spoke up and “some people agreed with the fisherman but the others were louder”. This demonstrates the voicelessness and defencelessness in our society and shows how social repression can create a context where those who are different are demonised, isolated and persecuted.
The text highly contrasts with the images in this book and provide a satirical, humorous feeling. “So they took him in” is juxtaposed with the islanders marching the man away with perilous weapons and we see that the text is saying something positive while the images are negative. The use of “they” also connotates the conformist civilization, instead of using a specific individual name, the people are defined by a group. The satanic caricature of the priest symbolises the devil and how institutions such as education, family, law and religion all manifest into concordant, alike ways of thinking.
This is portrayed when a mother warns her child about the man “he will come and eat you if you don’t finish your soup! ” The allusion of the Big Bad Wolf and threats in family life proves the irony of a primitive society that cannot think for itself. We can see that the community is dismissive to any inimitable opinions and lack of identity is apparent. Consequently, the satire and analogy in The Island makes us see the exclusion of a unique individual which results into intolerance and inconsideration of the other.