“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you ever have been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” (Anonymous)
The nature of survival is shown in the texts “Soldier x” written by Don L. Wulffson, “Touching the void” written Joe Simpson, “Never fall down” written by Patricia McCormick and the film “Rabbit proof fence” directed by Phillip Noyce. These 4 stories tell of people who endured long and painful journeys that many wouldn’t of survived, but despite all the odds these people did.
The nature of survival was firstly shown in the text “solider x” written by Don L. Wulffson. The book takes place during WW2 and is written from the perspective of Erik Brandt who is a half Russian half German boy. The story shows many aspects of survival through the torment of war. The first aspect of survival that was shown is that you have to take risks to stay alive. This was shown when Protagonist Erik Brandt got separated from his squad on Russian front lines, under pressure he decides to switch his uniform with those of a dead Russian soldier. By doing so he wouldn’t be spotted out as a German soldier thus surviving the incident. “I had only one chance, I knew, to save myself. In that cramped and bloody charnel house beneath the tank, I removed my clothes even my socks and underwear-then exchanged my clothes for his.” Erik ignores the fact that he is taking the clothes off of a corpse for himself to use, which shows how in a tight situation we make important decisions quickly. Those decisions may not necessarily be what we want to do but instead what we need to do.
A second aspect of survival that was shown in the text is that you have to be on your toes at all times. There is very little room for error in a war and Erik has a very close call when lying about his true identity. This was shown when Erik is a patient in a Russian medical bay. In the months he stays people ask questions about his past and who is, he lies to the doctors and other patients that he’s suffering from amnesia. “Desperately, I tried to think of the Russian word for amnesia, but ironically, I could not remember it, and found myself staring blankly at the odd group.” There are times where he almost forgets about the ‘amnesia’ lie he told but realizes himself just in time. “Forgetting myself, I almost responded in German. But I caught myself in time.” This shows how we always have to be ready for the unexpected to happen in a survival situation because if we make a mistake the consequences could be catastrophic.
“Touching the void”
The nature of survival was shown in the text “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson. A climbing party of two set off to tame Siula grande, the undefeated mountain. All is looking good until the descent begins, Joe Simpson the Protagonist of the story falls down an ice ledge which results in him having one of his legs broken. Due to the difficulties of rescuing severely injured climbers at such high attitudes they are often left no choice but to leave them behind. However Joe was determined to overcome the odds. The first aspect of survival that was shown in “Touching the void” is that you sometimes have to be selfish, regardless of your situation. This was shown when Joe Simpson is being belayed down Siula Grande;he starts picking up speed and calls for Simon to stop feeding the rope so quickly but Simon can’t hear Joe’s cries, this results in Joe being suspended off of a cliff face. Simon sits in the cold weather holding Joe from a rope long enough begins developing early stages of frostbite and begins losing his grip. Simon realizes he has a knife in his sack and cuts the rope without hesitation. “The knife. The thought came out of nowhere. Of course the knife. Be quick, come on get it.” This shows us how when we are on the brink of death we have to make vital decisions to ensure our own survival. It also shows us how in extreme circumstances we start thinking selfishly and are more prepared to save ourselves than others. Since the emotional bond between Joe and Simon isn’t as strong compared to his parents for example, would he of done the same thing if it were his parents at the end of the rope?
A second aspect of survival shown in the text is that we have to take risks, we may not be guaranteed anything but at least we tried. This was shown when Joe is stuck in a crevasse and is faced with the difficult choice of either trying to climb out of it or abseil further down. He comes to the conclusion that he has nothing left to lose and decides because of this to go further down. “The desire to stop abseiling became almost unbearable.” “The torment of anticipating something unknown…I hung shaking on the rope with my helmet pressed to the ice.” This shows that we can’t be prepared for the future and have to accept the challenges that arise. Joe knew no matter what way he chose to go it would be tough so he settled on belaying further down and gave it his all.
When Joe had to make that choice down in the crevasse it can be related to when Hans from “Soldier x” had to make that big decision in the trenches, Hans’s life was on the line and in the heat of the moment switched clothes with the dead Russian soldier which allowed him to survive. This is similar to when Joe from “Touching the void” was stuck in the crevasse and had to decide whether he should go further down or not. These two situations are very different from one another but end up with the protagonists making a very critical decision to ensure there survival. They were both in a tight situation where it really came down to correct decision making and gut feeling which shows that no matter what, if you’re in a tight situation you need to follow what you believe is right. People deal with the fear of death in there own way and these two decided to push the boundaries and risk it all even though that risk could of resulted in there death.
“Never fall down”
The Nature of survival was shown in the text “Never fall down” written by Patricia McCormick. The book is written from the point of view of a pol plot regime survivor, Arn Chorn-Pond who was taken from his family and forced into illegal child labor under control of the Khmer Rouge. The first aspect of survival that was shown in the text is that you must never give up. The Khmer Rouge are always killing the weak children so that only the strong are left, those who aren’t killed are called the children of the future, “Never do the Khmer Rouge say, We’re gonna kill you. Always they say something else, like Help us with the oxcart or You going to a new place, maybe so they don’t scream or cry or beg. You scream or cry or beg, they kill you right away.” The Khmer Rouge make the people powerless and are very abusive towards them, many die under their ruling. We see how powerless they make Arn when he is forced to push dead bodies into a pit, some are not even dead but he keeps pushing them in because if he stops he knows he’ll be joining them. “You,” he says to me. “You put them in the ditch.” I don’t want to do this, but I do it. My body does what this guy says. I push the people, very heavy, lots of blood. I push them into the grave. I do it. One guy, he’s not even dead. They say to push him anyway. The guy with the ax, he look at me. Deep in the eye. To see what I feel. I make my eye blank. You show care, you die. You show fear, you die. You show nothing, maybe you live.” This shows us that we have to keep pushing through hard times, we may encounter things we don’t agree with or want to do but they are what make us the person we are later on in life. Arn was a fighter and though he was heavily effected by these experiences later on in life he became a human rights activist committed to preserving traditional Cambodian music. He survived through the horrific events but still has to survive the traumatizing memories which really shows that we can be scarred on the inside too.
“Rabbit proof fence”
The nature of survival was shown in the film “Rabbit proof fence” directed by Phillip Noyce “Rabbit proof fence” is about three young aboriginal girls who are forcefully taken from their home and put into a white native settlement called Moore River that teaches aboriginal children how to live as a white people do. The girls escape the settlement but are faced with the challenge of trekking 1500 miles through the Australian outback to there home town Jigalong! The first aspect of survival that was shown is that you have to be one step ahead of the predator. In this case the predator is an Aboriginal man called Moodoo who tracks children that have escaped from Moore River. Molly uses the rain to cover the trio’s tracks from the tracker Moodoo when they escape from Moore river. The viewer hears Molly say in a stern voice “We just keep walking and the rain will cover our tracks.” Inspirational music is played as we see a long shot of the girls running into the forest. When it begins to rain, they are shown in a three shot and Molly is laughing. This shows how Molly is well adapted to the land and knows how to think on her feet. She would of picked up these tricks from living with her family in the outback because they literally survive off the land. This aspect of survival was also shown when Molly uses Daisy’s bag as a decoy to lure the Tracker in the wrong direction up the river whilst they head downstream. “Molly orders Daisy to give her, her bag. Molly places it over the reeds in the river. She then says, “In the water, we need to cover our tracks.” These aspects of survival show us that if we make good decisions and think about the future effects our decisions will create we will remain safe and in control of our situation.
A second aspect of survival that was shown in the film “Rabbit proof fence” is that you have to believe. This was shown when Molly wakes up to see the Spirit Bird flying above her. For the majority of the trip there motivation would of come from the thought of home but after so much walking they became completely exhausted and were no longer able to focus properly. The girls were dehydrated, confused and exhausted all was looking down. “A series of close-up show the girls faces and legs, blur in and out of focus. Finally, they collapse and an overhead shot shows them again to look vulnerable in a fetal position. The girls are not only surviving the harsh desert conditions, but also the fact that they might not even make it back home will be filling there heads. “The hawks cry is heard, and then it is seen in a low angle shot. Extreme close ups show Molly looking up at the sky. Close ups show daisy smiling.” Hope is restored as soon as the girls have something to believe in. When we put our minds to something we can get motivated and begin to focus on that particular thing which is defiantly useful when in a survival situation. For the majority of the trip there motivation would of come from the thought of home but after so much walking they became completely exhausted and were no longer able to focus properly.
“Rabbit proof fence” and “Never fall down” have their differences and their similarities. However when it comes to survival both tell stories of individuals who had to survive difficult times. Molly, Gracie and Daisy endured on a long journey where they lacked food and spent most of the time walking in the boiling sun. Arn had a lack of food and resorted to hunting bugs and other small creatures. He also had to undergo long hours of forced work without stopping. There was a lot of pressure on Arn because if he made a mistake he would be killed by the Khmer Rouge. This can be related to Molly, Gracie and daisies situation, they often lack food and are under the constant pressure of the tracker because if he catches them their journey will come to an end. In everyday life there are children put into uncomfortable situations where they feel pressured or threatened. There are children who have to survive one day at a time and need our help, whether they are victims of child labor or child abuse something needs to be done. Books like these can help raise awareness because they talk about real stories of children that havd to survive horrible times.
Survival is forced upon us in difficult times and we must accept the facts and push on. Without the courage to keep pushing all of these people’s stories would of ended a lot sooner. The greatest reward these people got from there actions got was there lives and they will be ever grateful for that. These texts shows how us ordinary people can overcome extraordinary events and with a bit of belief and courage you can too.
“The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.”-Charles Darwin