14th August 2017

Survival Essay

“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.”- CC.Scott

It is clear  that for people to survive  they must outsmart their opposition in many different ways, using the  abilities they have. In the texts: “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson, “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce, “The Book Thief” written by Markus Zusak and “Eight Below” directed by Paul Walker, characters present to us that we need to take risks, make personal goals for ourselves, use our faith and spiritual beliefs, utilize the skills we already have, use our interests as an escape, use teamwork and trust in each other . Overall, these texts present to us that  for one to survive difficult circumstances one must have determination and a strong mindset from the beginning in order to survive.

Touching the Void

In the text “Touching the Void,” written by Joe Simpson – Joe and Simon Yates present to us their incredible survival in the Peruvian Andes, when they climb the daunting unclimbed 4,500-foot  West Face of the majestic 21,000 foot Siula Grande.

The first aspect of survival that was shown, is that we need to take risks in order to provide ourselves with opportunities to survive. This is shown when Joe falls through the crevasse and lands on an ice ledge. Joe is amazed that he is alive after falling 150-feet into the crevasse. After securing himself to the crevasse wall with an ice screw and rope Joe lights up the crevasse with his torch and realises that there is 100 feet of space (at least) below him. Joe realises he is trapped.  After trying to climb out of the crevasse Joe decides to take a risk by belaying himself down deeper into the crevasse, to find an opening. The text states: “ I already knew that I wasn’t going through that madness again…threw the rope down to the right… I let myself slide off the edge….If there was nothing there I didn’t want to come back.” This shows that  Joe had to take this risk because if he stayed on the ledge he would die a slow and painful death but by lowering himself into the crevasse there was a chance that he may find a way out and survive. It shows that by taking the risk to lower himself into the crevasse Joe is  giving himself the opportunity to survive, instead of staying on the ledge where he would have died without trying. It also gives him the hope that he may still escape the crevasse. This shows us that sometimes taking a risk is better than not taking one while trying to survive.

A second aspect of survival that was shown in the text “Touching the Void” is to set personal goals for yourself so that you have something to work towards and focus on. This is shown when Joe sets time goals for himself, when he is hobbling with his injured leg over huge boulders and rocks towards bomb alley. The voice in Joe’s head urges him on with these time goals. The text states “The voice kept urging me on, “place-lift-brace-hop… .”  Joe reacts to the voice in his head by doing as he’s told. By setting time goals it helps Joe to pass the monotony,  pain and delusions that he is feeling. The text states: “I forgot why I was doing it; forgot even the idea that I would probably make it. Running on instincts that I never suspected were in me… I timed myself religiously…I looked ahead to each landmark and gave myself half an hour to reach it… it felt so damned important to beat the watch..the watch became as crucial as my good leg.”This shows that by beating the watch it helps Joe mentally as he is achieving his goal which helps him to keep going. He is overcoming the pain and fear he is feeling. It shows us that by setting goals for ourselves to work towards and having determination, we are able to overcome obstacles in order to survive. Joe was determined to get back to base camp and through his will to survive he was able to keep going. 

Rabbit Proof Fence

In the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce, the main character  Molly Craig,  presents to us her survival with her sister Daisy and cousin Gracie on their 1200 mile journey home to Jigalong across the Australian outback after escaping Moore River Settlement for half castes and quarter caste Aboriginal children.

 The first aspect of survival that is shown, is that you need to use your faith and spiritual beliefs to survive.  This is shown at Jigalong Camp at the beginning when a hawk flies over and is heard calling. Molly’s mother tells Molly that the spirit bird is her protector and guide. This highlights the strong spiritual beliefs that Aboriginals hold and Molly’s connection to her homeland.  The viewer hears the diegetic sounds of the hawk calling. A point of view shot is shown  from Molly’s perspective  of her looking up at the hawk.  This shows that Molly fully trusts that the spirit bird will protect and guide her whenever she needs. It also shows the strong connection Molly has with her family.   Later in the film, after escaping Moore River and walking nearly 1200 miles, Molly and Daisy lie in the desert after collapsing in exhaustion.  Molly hears the hawk’s cry and an extreme close-up shows Molly  looking up at the spirit bird flying overhead.  We also see an extreme long shot of Molly turning her head towards the mountains that are familiar to her. Molly says: “Home”.  Molly knows that she is close to home and the spirit bird has been guiding and protecting her on the way home. Molly is connected to her homeland and knows  she is nearing Jigalong. This shows that by having spiritual beliefs it can give you belief and hope to be able to survive. It shows the strong beliefs the Aboriginal people have about animals and their environment. Molly uses the knowledge she knows about the environment  and animals to help them survive on their journey. Molly’s belief in her family and faith in her spiritual beliefs helps her to survive and return home. 

This is can be related to Joe in Touching the Void because although Joe doesn’t believe in God, he hopes  that his ma and grandmother are praying for him back home. In comparison, Molly’s mother and grandmother in Jigalong are often seen chanting, as if calling the girls back to them. This is shown in an extreme close up of the girls holding the fence. In Jigalong, this image is mirrored  as Molly’s mother is  holding the rabbit proof fence showing the emotional and spiritual bond between them. Similar to Joe, the girls believe that their  families are praying for them to return home safe and alive. This shows that sometimes power of of family and belief  gives people determination to return home. All the girls  and Joe want to do is return to their families.

A second aspect of survival that is shown in the film’’Rabbit Proof Fence’’  is to utilize the skills you already have to survive. This is shown at the start of the film in Jigalong where Molly is seen learning to read tracks while  hunting an iguana. The viewer sees a mid shot of Molly and her family looking down at the tracks, we then see a high angle of the iguana in the tree and Molly looking up at it . Lastly, we see a low angle of Molly smiling proudly at her family. This shows us that Molly has the skills to be able to hunt and read tracks. She is able to provide for herself as well as for Daisy and Gracie . When Molly, Daisy and Gracie escape Moore River, Molly’s hunting and tracking skills help them to avoid being caught. This is shown when the girls arrive at a farm and meet civil servant Mavis  who is an ex-resident of Moore River.  The girls stay the night in Mavis’ room but are found by the  farmer who repeatedly molests Mavis.  Mavis pleads with them to stay, so they do.  Molly wakes up to see  car lights are flashing outside. The girls run out into the outback and the viewer sees a long shot of Molly grabbing a piece of bush and running with it behind her to make pretend tracks. This shows that Molly is tricking the men into thinking the girls have run out into the outback but they are actually hiding close by in the darkness.  Molly shows by using her tracking skills  she is able to trick the men and is able to avoid getting caught . This shows that Molly is much more intelligent than the men and by using her skills she learnt at Jigalong she is able to outsmart her opposition in order to survive. This shows that by using the abilities you have it can help you to survive. 

The Book Thief

In the text “The Book Thief” written by Markus Zusak, Liesel Meminger presents to us her survival in Nazi Germany during WW2.

The first aspect of survival that was shown is when Liesel uses books as an escape from what is going on in her life. This was shown when Liesel arrives in the town of Molching, Germany to live with her foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann. On her way to the Hubermanns, Liesel’s younger brother dies and her mother leaves her later on in the journey.   Liesel is unable to read, so kind Hans begins to teach her. At night Liesel has nightmares about her brother, so Hans comes in and reads and teaches the alphabet to her into the early hours of the morning.The text states “unofficially it was called the midnight class” . By Hans teaching Liesel to read and write it helped her  to emotionally survive and forget about the nightmares she was having about her brother until the next night. Liesel soon falls in love with books. Soon after Hitler’s birthday, the Nazi party collects all Jewish books, old furniture and sets it on  fire in the middle of the town Molching to show their loyalty and respect for Hitler. Liesel is shocked and angry at this and later when everyone is gone, Liesel notices a book that wasn’t burnt and quickly puts it in her jacket. The text states “The book thief had struck for the first time- the beginning of an illustrious career.”This shows that by Liesel stealing her first book she is rebelling against the horrible things the Nazis are doing . This aspect is shown later in the book when the town Molching is being bombed by the English and most of the terrified residents of Himmel street are taking shelter in Fielders’ basement.  Liesel is very worried about her Jewish friend  Max Vandenburg who is hiding in their shallow basement because if a bomb hits, he is likely to be killed.  Liesel brings her collection of stolen books and begins  reading the first chapter of a book called The Whistler to the terrified crowd. Soon, everybody is listening and  Liesel realises, that by reading, she is comforting the scared people as well as taking her mind off Max. The text states “Out of respect, the adults kept everyone quiet, and Liesel finished chapter one of The Whistler.”This shows that by Liesel using books and words, she is able to help herself as well as other people. Books help Liesel to take a stand against what is going on around her. By Liesel using books she is able to emotionally and mentally survive the nightmare around her. This shows us that it is important to not only  to physically survive but mental, emotional and spiritual survival are all important in order to survive.

This could be related to Joe and Simon in “Touching the Void,” as the men mentally prepare to climb the West Face of Siula Grande by gorging themselves on food and sunshine for two whole days. Joe repeats “we can do it, we can do it,” whenever he feels the hollow hungry gap in his stomach wheras in “The Book Thief”  Liesel uses books to cope mentally with her circumstances. Similarly,  Joe and Simon mentally prepare themselves to face the different but equally difficult challenges ahead.

Eight Below

In the film “Eight Below” directed by Paul Walker, survival guide Jerry Shepard’s sled dogs present to us their survival when they are left to survive an Antarctic winter by themselves.

 The first aspect of survival that is shown is that teamwork and trust in one another is important to survive. This is shown when Dr Davis McClaren (Doc) –  a meteorite scientist and Jerry Shepard – a survival guide are sledding with Jerry’s dogs back towards base after an expedition as a big storm is approaching. Doc falls  and breaks his leg and then, falls into freezing water. Jerry instructs him to hold onto the ice around him. He quickly grabs equipment, calling his dogs, as he carefully makes his way to down to Doc. Jerry clips his dogs together and places a noose of rope into the mouth of Maya – his lead dog. The viewer sees a mid shot of this happening. Jerry says, “I’ve got you Maya, it’s ok.” This shows, that Jerry and Maya work together as a team  and   trust each other fully. Maya makes it to Doc and he puts the noose over his chest. A low angle shot is shown of Doc looking up at Maya. This shows, that Doc is the one in need and Maya is his rescuer. Maya backs away and Jerry calls “Hike, Hike…!”  A mid shot is shown of all the dogs pulling  Doc out of the water. We also hear diegetic sounds of the dogs barking. This shows that by working together efficiently and fully trusting each other Jerry and his team of dogs are able to save Doc.  Teamwork shows us, that  sometimes, you need more than one person to be able to survive.  One individual would not have been able to save Doc but a team were able to.

This is similar to Joe and Simon in “Touching the Void” as they have to work together and trust one another. Joe trusts Simon as he is an experienced mountaineer who matches his own climbing ability but also because he is good to get along with . Joe says “there were few other people I could have coped with for so long.” This shows that Joe trusts Simon completely just as Jerry trusts his sled dogs completely and they trust him. Joe and Simon show teamwork when Joe breaks his leg when they are descending . Simon decides to help Joe down the mountain toward the glacier. “He was still grinning, and his confidence was infectious. Who said one man can’t rescue another, I thought. We had changed from climbing to rescue, and the partnership had worked just as effectively. We hadn’t dwelt on the accident. There had been an element of uncertainty at first, but as soon as we had started to act positively everything had come together.”  Similar to Jerry and his dogs Simon and Joe have a unique partnership which enables them to overcome the difficult situation they are in which is getting Joe down the mountain alive. Like Jerry and his dogs they have a strong bond of trust and teamwork.

For a person to survive, they must never give up  mentally,spiritually, emotionally or physically.  This is shown in the texts: “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson, “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce, “The Book Thief” written by Markus Zusak and “Eight Below” directed by Paul Walker. These characters in these texts present to us, that we need to take risks, make personal goals for ourselves, use our faith and spiritual beliefs, utilize the skills we already have, use our interests as an escape, use teamwork and trust in each other.  Overall, the viewer/reader learns, that the power of the human spirit is incredible when pushed to the limit in order to survive.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Maggie, in the first week of Term 4, you will be given time to finalise your “Significant Connections” assessment. Key areas to strengthen:
    1) Complete all of your texts’ analysis. Some of your final judgements are incomplete here.
    2) Complete your comparisons between texts.
    2) Read through your assessment out loud to find all of the technical errors that are present: grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence structure.
    A bit of work to do this week, Maggie. You will need to use your time efficiently.


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