Aarika Alabata: Goliath by Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld chooses to take a different perspective and introduces interesting questions in his graphic novel, “Goliath”. “Goliath” is roughly based on the Biblical history of David and Goliath but more so told from Goliath’s angle. In Gauld’s novel, Goliath is somber, submissive “champion” that was only consider for his title because he was tall in stature.

This story strays entirely from the traditional narrative of David and Goliath and allows the audience to engage in a new perspective. In the original work of the Biblical story of David and Goliath, Goliath is portrayed as an intimidating character that is confident in his mission. In the book of Samuel, Goliath continues to badger the Israelites for 40 days, morning and night with the same decree. He claims that he will defeat any warrior they choose to summon in his path. As they story is told in the book of Samuel, Goliath of Gath is executed by a pebble and a young shepherd boy with a sling. Despite both stories of David and Goliath ending in the same manor, there is an entirely different approach in Gauld’s novel.

We are introduced to Goliath in the beginning of the novel, not as a fighter or a bear slayer but a tall guy that content with his job in administration. Goliath even claims that he is the “fifth worst swordsman in my platoon.” Goliath was told to play the part and the “enemy will cower before us”. That is exactly what Goliath did, he did his best to play the part. He read their script morning and evening dressed in the ridiculous armor they dress him in. He waited and waited for the day he could stop “acting” and get back to his administration business. The Goliath we identify in Gauld’s story is not one that strikes fear into surrounding nations. Goliath could even be depicted as childe-like because of his passive and unwavering obedience. The only reason that Goliath would ever be seen as the champion of the Philistines was because he was good at playing the part.

“Goliath” graphics play an important role in the characterization of Goliath as well as his journey of becoming a “champion”. Gauld used cartoons that were simple, innocent, and approachable. Even the image of Goliath was not at all intimidating or a depiction of a man that could “punch a camel and kill it”. This was Gauld’s way for the reader to identify with Goliath. Goliath didn’t believe himself to be a scary warrior that threatened neighboring towns’ people. Goliath may have been tall in stature but he almost always hunched over, making himself seem smaller or meek. His jaw is not defined, his muscles are not bulging, and his head is not held high. Goliath, though giant in comparison, looks like everyone else. I think that was Gauld’s point, that Goliath although tall, was just like everyone else in his village. To Goliath’s disadvantage, his physical differences caused him to play a role he was not ready nor qualified to play.

Gauld uses simple text that also provides humor within his story. Goliath talks like a normal individual, and from reading the way he interacts with other’s he seems fairly quiet. Goliath spends most of his days working alone in administration but when he is on guard, he passes the time by having small talk with the nine year old shield-bearer. Gauld has a way of portraying Goliath’s gentleness by his interactions with this young shield-bearer. Whenever they hear or see or hear someone coming, Goliath persists on the young boy to hide among the rocks for safety. This is to show that Goliath is not a cruel man wishing to wreak havoc on the Israelites or young David. Goliath’s unfortunate destiny was set

before him not because of his warrior like quality but simply because he stood shoulders above his comrades. In the beginning of the story, Goliath picks of a pebble to foreshadow what is to happen to him. Yet, also to depict that he was not aware of his unfortunate fate. Despite Goliath true passion for administration, this gentle giant would be forced to meet his death on account of his loftiness.

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