The story “Mr. Van Gogh” by Owen Marshall is set in a small New Zealand town. The narrative centres on Frank Reprieve Wilcox, a “crazy” artist who has a passion for the well-known painter Vincent Van Gogh, as seen from the viewpoints of the locals. Throughout the story, we witness society reject him due to his passion and interests. “Mr. Van Gogh” focuses on the exclusion of Frank by Owen Marshall’s use of multiple language features.
Owen Marshall uses symbolism in the writing to convey the idea of Frank’s social exclusion. The first instance is how Frank’s house is used in the narrative to represent his loss of personality and the weariness he feels as a result of being excluded. “The original colours of the house had given up their differences and weathered stoically into an integration of rust and exposed wood.” Due to the ongoing turmoil he has received from society, Mr. Van Gogh has lost all of his “colour”, just like his home. Mr. Van Gogh was worn and torn, but his passion and heart were still there. In the modern era, instances of exclusion are becoming more prevalent all over the world, and we frequently worry about being judged by others and being excluded. Looking perfect and being perfect all the time simply isn’t possible, and trying too hard to do so can be extremely difficult. Having to deal with these thoughts and problems on a regular basis can cause a lot of stress and wear on a person. A prime example of this is Mr. Van Gogh, whose home, like him, represents the strain that constant pressure and exclusion can bring.
“Mr. Van Gogh” is rich with imagery that distinguishes Frank from the rest of the community and is the root of his marginalisation. People in the modern era frequently face harsh criticism for how they present themselves, including the way they act and look. Frank is referred to in the narrative as a “care-worn lion,” with a vintage, ragged coat and knotted hair. Frank’s seclusion from society is a result of his appearance. With the use of the images utilised by Owen Marshall Frank, the reader is made aware of the exclusion that can result from one’s looks. This is crucial for people my age to understand because it shows us that a person’s marginalisation and exclusion from society are frequently caused by their appearance, which is almost certainly totally unfair and wrong. We need to understand that treating someone unfairly because of their appearance is entirely unacceptable, and that being overlooked because of our appearance should not be a concern. “Mr. Van Gogh” demonstrates not only the damaging effects of marginalisation and exclusion but also how unfairly someone’s appearance can be judged.
People are frequently excluded in the modern world simply because they are unique. This is increasingly prevalent in my age group. Teenagers and children are frequently picked on and bullied due to the way they act, look, or behave around others, causing them to be excluded from their peers. I’m confident that the majority of teenagers would respond “no” if you asked them if they were satisfied with how they looked. This is most likely a result of the large number of teenagers who experience bullying because of their body type, clothing choices, hairstyles, or any other aspect of their appearance. A teen’s life at school or in general can be significantly impacted by bullying that is appearance-based. When you hear yourself described as ugly, unattractive, or scruffy all the time, you will inevitably try to look better. This is a problem because the rejection and bullying that Mr. Van Gogh experiences will have the same effect on someone my age, if not worse. Trying to be perfect in appearance is extremely stressful and can significantly impact a young person’s life, as it did with Mr. Van Gogh.