Survival Essay:                                     First text:  Touching the Void




“That survival instinct, that will to live, that need to get back to life again, is more powerful than any consideration of taste, decency, politeness, manners, civility. Anything. It’s such a powerful force.” – Director Danny Boyle.


Destroy what destroys you. This is shown in the texts “ Touching The Void” written by Joe simpson, “ Rabbit Proof Fence” Directed by Phillip Noyce, “ Lone Survivor” directed by Peter Berg, and “ The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” Written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. They all also show emotional and physical survival throughout their story’s. All of these texts teach us about what survival means and what the characters were put through to ensure their survival.


Touching the Void


In the book “ Touching the Void”  by Joe Simpson, Joe Simpson and simon Yates tell the story of how they survive at Siula grande by using goal and time settings to help them survive in their situation at the Peruvian Andes.


This first aspect of survival is shown many times throughout the text and  plays the biggest aspect in this book as it is a key and main survival technique that Joe and simon use the most throughout their trip. Dialogue from Joe states “ We had to find the steep ice couloir which ran up the side of the buttress … we had under six hours to find it.” This shows that Joe and Simon had to be cautious and quick about their timing, otherwise the storms and bad weather along with it being dark would make it too dangerous and the both of them could potentially fall of the mountain or become badly injured. As a viewer this tells us that the two were prepared and knew what they were doing, goal and time wise. Joe describes this in the book that he has to make time goals , “ Four hours to climb 300 feet. I seriously doubted whether we would be able to get up these flutings.” From this we learn that sometimes when doing a dangerous sports such as mountaineering, you need to use goals and time to your advantage, because if your timing is wrong you are likely  putting yourself and others in danger.  


A second aspect of survival in this text is shown when Simon has to make the rational decision of cutting the rope with Joe on the other end. From page 73 and onwards Joe and Simon describe how this tough situation happens, Joe – “ As the hammer came out there was a sharp cracking sound and my right hand, gripping the axe, pulled down. The sudden jerk turned me outwards and instantly I was falling.” This tells us that Joe’s axe was not in place properly, therefore causing Joe to fall into danger. “ Both knees locked as I struck it (the slope). I felt a shattering blow in my knee, felt bones splitting, and screamed.” Simon then realizes that Joe can not walk as he has broken his leg, Simon beings to tie Joe up to a pulley like system connected to him and begins lowering Joe down the mountain. As Simon lowers Joe down the mountain more and more, Joe notices that the slope steepens and screams at Simon to stop, Simon cannot hear and as Joe is lowered more he eventually falls of the edge of the cliff hanging suspended in the dark. Joe starts to slowly freeze – “ With each gust I was getting colder.” We as a reader learn that Joe and Simon have been sitting there  long enough for the both of them to start freezing. We also learn that in the environment they are  in its very hard to hear one another. As the hours tick by Simon knows that Joe has fallen and he can not help him; Joe’s weight is too heavy.  


Simon is slowly slipping of the mountain and is also extremely cold. “ I kept stamping my feet. I was trying to halt the collapse of the snow seat but it wasn’t working . I felt the shivers of fear… god I had to do something.” Simon realizes that he has his knife in his rucksack, and almost without hesitation he secures his position on the mountain and cuts the rope. He immediately feels the weight of Joe, leave him. Simon – “ I was alive and at that moment that was all I could think about. Where Joe was, or whether he was alive, didn’t concern me in the long silence of the cutting. His weight had gone from me. Had I killed him.” This shows us that when in survival we need to make quick and rational decisions to ensure our own survival. Also that when two individuals lives are at stake one can make the decision to save themselves.  


Rabbit proof fence                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


In the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” by Phillip Noyce, three girls named Molly Craig, Molly’s sister Daisy  Kadibil and the cousin Gracie Fields show us in the film that by using their knowledge of tracking / hunting and their sense of direction, they are able to survive in the australian outback.


This is an aspect that the girls use most often throughout the film. This is first shown when the girls and their family in Jigalong are hunting for Iguana. The mother and grandmother of Molly and Daisy are encouraging and teaching the girls how to track and hunt Iguana. Molly’s mother is shown teaching molly how to read tracks. This is show in a long shot. When the girls leave Moore River Molly uses her knowledge about tracking by telling the girls that they needed to leave that morning because the rain will cover their tracks so that they are able to get as far as possible. Dialogue from molly – “ tracker not gonna get us, we just keep walking and the rain will cover our tracks.” A long shot shows the girls beginning their journey running to the trees. It begins to rain and the girls are shown in a three shot whilst molly laughs. The girls later on in the film are known for hunting on the journey home. Published in the newspaper “ The only remains of the girls we found was a dead rabbit.” This shows the viewers that the girls have been using their hunting and tracking skills to ensure their own survival in the australian outback.


A second aspect of the film is about molly and her positivity/ motivation towards the girls and their journey. This shown throughout the whole film, but firstly this is shown when the girls are about to escape from the Moore River Native Settlement. Molly is told to take the bucket out and waits till the other girls have gone to the hall. Molly uses this as an opportunity to get herself as well as gracie and daisy out of there. Molly tells the girls “ come on. Get your things. We’re going. We’re going home to mother.” Daisy then looks concerned in a close up : “ How we gonna get there?” Molly replies, “walk.” Gracie doubts and doesn’t want to go – “We like it here. That tracker, he gonna get us and put us in that room.” This shows us that Gracie is a negative character as she doubts Molly and the decisions. Molly then sternly says “ He not gonna get us. We just keep walking and the rain will cover our tracks.


From this we can Already tell that Molly is very determined and has a strong and positive personality and believes in herself and the girls. Molly never once doubts herself or the girls throughout the whole film. When Molly is talking to the girls the camera is low angle, mid shot to show that Molly has more authority over the girls and that she is represented as a leader for the girls. This makes Molly look more strong and confident. We learn that in serious or quick decision making scenarios some one needs to be positive and always believe in themselves and others, As this can help people get through situations or solve problems.


Joe also shows this determination in Touching the Void. Molly and Joe are both determined to survive and they keep pushing until they have reached their goals. Joe occupies his mind by making goals to get to his next location and consistently keeps doing this to ensure his survival. Joe uses this to keep himself occupied to the task and not worrying about his leg. Joe explains that he has a voice that is clear and talks to him and motivates him to get to his destinations. Joe becomes more determined as he gets closer  to the base camp and refuses to give up. His determination sticks with him the whole journey.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind


In the book “ The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer is a true story that takes place in a small remote poor village in Africa 2001.  William Kamkwamba the main character tells his story of how he saves his village from future famines of starvation by building a windmill from scrap yard materials behind his school.


The first aspect of survival explained in this book is the famine of starvation that hits Williams village and many others around the area. This famine also hits one of the biggest trading cities in Africa called Kasungu, affecting everyone around this area and causing many deaths, almost wiping the population out. These areas included Kasungu, Lilongwe and Williams village Wimbe.  This causes a major crises and food has run out as well as Kasungu  food and trading supplies, leaving everyone with no hope. Dialogue from william shows us that people are starting to die and catch diseases. “ Most of the time we had no money, so we spent out afternoons in hunger and dreams.” “ We were all losing weight. The bones began to show in my chest and the rope I used as a belt for my pants no longer sufficed.” “ People were dying around me in the streets.”


William wants to go to school as he is ambitious towards science and the way things work, but unfortunately has no money as it’s spent on what little food he can get. William also has to farm as being born malawian automatically puts him there. William – “ being born Malawian automatically made you a farmer. I think it’s written in the constitution somewhere, like a law passed down from moses. If you didn’t tend the soil, then you bought and sold in the market.” This shows us as a reader that williams village is cultural and that they believe in their own religion. William decides that in his spare time to take his mind of the hunger he would go to the library in the village and read science books, as well as find the textbooks for his year and study them. William takes his best friend Gilbert with him to the library and he helps William out as Gilbert attends school. Together they found science books but william found one book in particular that he liked called ‘Malawi Junior Integrated Science.’ This book explains how the science of power worked and William decided that he would study this book so he was able to make light in his bedroom.


Near the end of the book William is more knowledgeable about how things work and how to make them ; this leads William to finding out about windmills and how they worked and what they did. The idea is rumored through the village and William gets criticised nearly everyday being told he is a mad man, crazy, stupid boy or that he couldn’t do it because he was poor. Willam – “ Don’t insult me today just because i’m poor, you don’t know what my future holds.” This shows us that William is determined and doesn’t care about what others think of him.  This also shows that William has to emotionally survive as he is getting narked on everyday. William doesn’t let them get him down and he keeps going with his project until he finally reaches his goal and builds the windmill. This took him a few months to build and get working, but in the end it was all worth it as he saves his village from further famines because he can continue to upgrade his windmill and building further machines. From this we learn that being positive and not letting anyone tell you what to do, you can achieve anything and can therefore be used in survival situations such as this one.


The second aspect of survival in this book is about how william and his family have to physically, mentally and socially survive. This becomes a challenge as the family are still trying to farm at the same time so they can grow food and sell so they are able to scrap survival. This is shown in the book when William and his father are out in the farms early in the morning without eating any food. William – “ my arms were always dry and my mouth. My arms also became thin like blue gum trees and ached all the time. Soon I found it hard to squeeze my hand into a fist.” This is showing their little nutrition and physical ability. William – “ One day my heart began to beat so fast that I lost my breath and nearly fainted. What’s wrong with me I thought, I was so frightened.” This shows us as the reader that the people are becoming very weak and beginning to get sick. This also shows how much little food there is as they wouldn’t be in this position if they did have food.


Mentally /emotionally the family had to survive. This is because when having little clean water and food The brain becomes more dysfunctional and you become weak physically and mentally. This is a big problem for William’s family because his father becomes more depressed and sick leaving William to do most of the farming and hefty work, this causes William to get more sick also. William has three younger sisters and the eldest sister leaves home to get married, whilst the younger two ranging of 6 months to 7 years of age become very sick and close to death. The family have to emotionally deal with this problem of preparing for los a the two are not far behind death. Luckily The family all pitches in and helps the younger two as much as possible by trying to grow as much food as they can  fast and giving their shares of food and water to the girls. William becomes worried for his sisters and prays that the food will be ready soon. “ Just wait one month. I said, pleading. We’ll be feasting in a month.” This shows how much family is Valued in this culture and this is a key aspect in one’s survival. From this text we learn about how one’s survival can mean anothers. This is shown because as williams family becomes more sick and close to death, they all believe so much in their family that they simply cannot live without them. Williams family does as much as possible to help their family even if it meant they went without. Survival is shown in all possibilities in this text and teaches us that being strong, positive and determined you can achieve anything as did William Kamkwamba. It shows about how being strong mentally and physically can help you achieve or do anything that you dream.


This is also shown in “ Rabbit proof Fence”. Molly Craig the first main character is presented in these same ways with her determination, bravery and bold positivity towards herself and others. Molly Craig is very similar to william kamkwamba in these ways as they both present themselves as leaders with strong personalities. The two are also very confident and certain in themselves about how they do things and about how they are going to achieve their goals and dreams. Molly uses her positivity and determination to survive in the australian outback as a halfcast aboriginal girl. She shows this in the first half of the film as she is positive to her sister and cousin about their journey home and never doubts the journey or the girls . She shows pure determination to get home and away from the moore river native settlement.


Lone Survivor




Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Phoenix, you have presented a strong understanding of how survival is shown through character’s lives and events in these texts. 1) You will need to finish your text discussion on “Lone Survivor”; a final conclusion is also needed. 2) Editing your descriptions of textual evidence would be valuable. Focus on the evidence that is needed just for the point that you are making at the beginning and end of your paragraphs. 3) Make your connections across texts stronger- really work on showing how the texts are similar or different 4) Finally, read through your work carefully to find the word, spelling and punctuation errors.

  2. Phoenix, in the first week of Term 4, you will be given time to finalise your “Significant Connections” assessment. Key areas to strengthen:
    1) Complete your analysis of all four texts.
    2) Edit any plot information that is not relevant for your discussion.
    3) Look at the structure of your paragraphs: it may be more effective to begin your point discussion with the aspect/s of your theme that you will be presenting with evidence.
    4) Have a final read through and strengthen the technical accuracy of your work.
    – There is a bit of work to do here, so you will need to be focused in the final time that you are given.


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