1 Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, Faculty of Humanities, Københavns Universitet2 Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, Faculty of Humanities, Københavns Universitet
Shaun Tan and Søren Kierkegaard
This article analyses Shaun Tan’s picturebook The Red Tree using some of the central concepts of existentialism developed by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard argued that being a person entails a coming-to-be [tilblivelse], and for the person this coming-to-be manifests itself as a task. The task is to become oneself, which involves working through despair and becoming concrete. It is argued that The Red Tree demonstrates this process, with both the verbal and visual text depicting how despair can manifest itself through a process of sundering [splittelse], in which the little girl protagonist experiences separation, splitting and a sense of doubleness. Ultimately, though, this girl achieves a growing-together; she experiences a sense of concretion as she becomes the one she is, as symbolised by the magnificently sprouting red tree.
Children's Literature in Education, 2015, Vol 46, Issue 1, p. 38-52