24th August 2018

1.8 significant connections

the ability to have the mental strength will determine your ability to survive in the toughest of life or death situations

mental strength is a measure of individual resilience and confidence that may predict success in any given situation. to give up or not to give up determines your level of mental strength. many people believe that in life or death situations physical strength is most important, but actually in these situations the ability to have a strong mind when you life is being threatened will determine whether you make the correct decisions which will ultimately allow you to have the best chance at survival to make it out alive. the texts: “touching the void” written by joe simpson, “alone” by d.j brazier and the films “life of pi” directed by ang lee, “127 hours” directed by danny boyle all portray the theme that the ability to have the mental strength will determine your ability to survive in the toughest of life or death situations. in the toughest situations the only survivors will be the ones who have the ability to apply their mental strength in order to persist, stay positive, overcome their own mental barriers and refuse to give up on life.

in “touching the void” by joe simpson, the idea that mental strength will determine your ability to survive through the toughest of situations is presented. “touching the void” is a book accounted on the experience of himself and his climbing companion who set out on an adventure to reach the summit of siula grande in the peruvian andes. this idea of mental strength is shown during the end section of the text when joe and simon had conquered the siula grande and reached the summit. on the descent they were faced with a life threatening situation that would ultimately change both of their lives forever. while joe was climbing down a cliff of ice he incorrectly placed his axe in the ice resulting in him falling and breaking his leg. simon knew that he was most likely dead: “You’re dead…no two ways about it!” this quote shows that simon has accepted the fact that joe had little to no hope in surviving and that for him to survive he would have to leave Joe. simon decides to help joe by lowering him down the rest of the mountain. later in the text joe slides over the edge of a 150 foot cliff: “Joe’s fallen…Whatever Joe had gone over had stopped him getting his weight off the rope.” joe hangs there slowly starting to freeze to death. this leaves simon in a position where joes life is in his hands. this is when simons ability of mental strength is truly shown. “The knife. The thought came out of nowhere. Of course, the knife. Be quick, come on get it.” at last resort simon then made the decision to cut the rope. it is almost unimaginable to think that simon would potentially end not just his climbing partners life but a close friend. this shows how high simons level of mental strength really is. simon is mentally fighting the thought of him surviving but not joe and realises how much it will affect him later on in life. but simon persists and pushes through this thought because he knows that his survival is also at risk because of joe. this shows the nature of human survival, when your own life is at risk, your chance at survival becomes more valuable than somebody else. but in order to make this decision of placing the value of your life above another you are required to apply determination, persistence, courage and willpower, which are all characteristics of mental strength.

in “127 hours” a film directed by danny boyle the idea of mental strength determining your chance at survival is portrayed. this is film is based on a true story where aron ralston decides to explore alone the canyonlands national park in utah, when a rock gives way and falls with aron down a canyon ending up getting stuck in a narrow part of the canyon crushing his arm leaving him stuck and unable to move the rock. at first aron gives all he has in order to try and move the rock or slip away but nothing seems to work. after 30 days he has run out of water and has been experiencing severe hallucinations, in this section of the movie is where arons ability is displayed. although aron has not yet given up through his willpower, determination and persistence he now feels as if there is nothing left he can do to survive and his life may be over, shown in the scene where a close up shot is used to show aron relaxing and becoming ready to give up. aron decides that in order for him to make it out of this difficult situation and survive he must resort to cutting of his arm. as well as overcoming the mental barrier of cutting off his arm aron experienced excruciating pain which he also overcame. it is almost impossible for us to comprehend the thought of your own brain allowing you to cut your own arm off, which is the difference between somebody with and without mental strength, arons mental strength gave him a greater ability to survive. similar to touching the void a last resort decision is made in order to survive no matter the consequence. this action of removing one of two arms comes with devastating consequences in the long run requires an extremely high level of mental strength to accept the fact that he must sacrifice his own arm in order to have a chance of survival. this relates to us as humans who will do literally anything to survive but the most life threatening situations come with extreme mental barriers which in order to overcome you must posses the highest level of mental strength possible.

in the film “life of pi” directed by ang lee the theme of mental strength allowing you the ability to survive the most difficult life or death situations is shown. this story unlike “touching the void” and “127 hours” is not based on a true story but still illustrates the theme of mental strength. the protagonist piscine patel known as pi is a young boy living in india with his family who owns a local zoo. because of problems with money the family is forced to move to Canada, the family takes all of their animals with on a ship across the pacific ocean. during the journey the ship encounters a ferocious storm which the ship is unable to handle. because of pi’s curiosity, at the time of the storm pi was above deck. the cabin which pi’s family were asleep in had already flooded causing them top drown. as pi gets in the life boat all crew members a swept off the boat into the water all drowning leaving pi the only human survivor. as pi floats away he is accompanied by a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a bengal tiger called richard parker. the animals slowly start to die with the hyena killing the zebra and the orangutan, the tiger killing the hyena. pi is left alone on a small boat with richard parker with no means of defending himself from an attack, pi is forced to build a make shit raft out of life jackets and the boats oars which he stores all food and supplies too keep his distance from richard parker. pi has multiple experiences where he is on the verge of giving up. two of which happen during a storm pi the first in a scene where the storm is raging and pi stands up screaming “ive lost my family, ive lost everything, i surrender, what more do you want” from this scene the viewer sees that pi is on the brink of giving up and believes he has nothing left to live for if he was to survive. in another scene as the storm carries on, the viewer is shown a wide angle shot which shows pi’s makeshift raft floating away after the rope connected to the boat comes off. the shot then changes to a mid shot of pi leaning over the boat staring into the distance. through these shots the viewer is given an insight to pi’s mind which we can see thoughts of surrender and submission, pi has a heavy mental barrier weighing him down telling him that he now has no chance at survival. this mental barrier is also found in “127 hours” despite these thoughts of negativity and experiences pushing them to their greatest limits, they carry on battling for their life in attempt to overcome this situation of life or death through mental strength. for pi to be all alone with near to no hope left and push through the mental barrier truly shows how mentally strong pi is. in the end of the film pi and richard parker wash up on the shore of civilization and finally survive, which shows that it was the ability to have mental strength which allowed pi to overcome all barriers and thoughts of negativity ultimately determining pi’s survival.

in “alone” written by d.j brazier the theme of survival is shown. after a trip of a lifetime with his dad, sam and his fathers plane crashes in the amazon jungle. the crash separates sam and his dad from each other leaving sam all alone to survive and fend for himself against the dangers of the jungle. many days pass with no hope of survival or rescue and sam begins to grow weaker and weaker by the day thinning his chance of survival. over a week passes and sam has been as resourceful as possible but to sam hope seems far. the only food sam has eaten has been a small amount of fruit, becoming beyond hungry sam realises he his no longer being looked after by his dad and must take responsibilty: ive got to take responsibility for myself. everything i do from this moment on has to be with only one aim in mind – to survive” for a young boy to ground themself and take responsiblitity in this situation is a excellent example of mental strength. the simplest of task become difficult for him and creates strong frustration resulting in thoughts of surrender similar to the film. sam attempts to create a fire in hope of warmth and being able to cook a meal. he tries multiple ways of doing this, none are working as sam has little to no experience in creating fire, sam is exhausted and is greeted by a voice in his head: “but still the voice whispers in my ear, telling me ive run out of options. telling me the only thing i can be certain of is that without a fire im going to die… without food and warmth i wont survive… i cant! i just cant. and i wont. but i have to. although sam is mentally destroyed and believes be has no options left, his inner mental strength which he is oblivious too is digging deep fighting to survive telling him he has to survive. similar to the film “life of Pi” sam like pi is at the brink of giving up and is faced with a great mental barrier which threatens his chance of survival, but is overcome by the ability to have mental strength. later in the text sam finds an otter which he forms a connection with too keep him company, he names this otter galaxy. this decision was made out of fear of being alone forever and sam knows that he will eventually become insane because of isolation. this is a decision which will determine the outcome of his survival. unlike “touching the void” and “127 hours” sam is put in a position which he is very unfamiliar with and has little survival experience, sam has solely relied on his ability to dig deep and access his ability to have mental strength. this shows the way us as humans are wired, even when put in extreme situations which are greatly foreign to us, when at your last straw of survival its your ability to have the mental strength in order to overcome the situation and survive.

a persons ability to survive the toughest of situations is determined by their ability to have will power, persistence and determination which are characteristics of mental strength. this theme as been explored and is evident throughout the films “life of pi” directed by ang lee and “127 hours” directed by danny boyle and the written texts “touching the void” written by joe simpson, as well as “alone” by d.j brazier. in these written and visual texts characters are put in life threatening circumstances, faced by fear, struggle and mental barriers which they are required to overcome, which is only achievable by applying mental strength. the authors and directors of these texts are trying to portray how important it is to possess mental strength. there aim of displaying this idea is expressed by showing the viewer the situations of extremity the characters find themselves in, and showing that when the characters are at their physical limits it is not definite that your chance at survival is over. but when at this physical limitation your ability to have mental strength will surpass this physical barrier and gift you a chance at survival

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Zak, you should feel proud of how you have used your time for this assessment thus far. In the final lessons, you should:
    1) Strengthen your connections between texts: make sure that you give specific details when making your connections between texts. Some additional evidence is needed to secure your findings.
    2) I realise that in some places, you have made a connection between two texts but consider how these texts might connect in other ways. Are there any outcomes/ideas that are similar or different but still teach the reader/marker about your theme?
    2) Edit this writing so that you include full-stops, capital letters, accurate grammar and word-choice.


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