The human mind has the incredible ability to adapt to a situation that it has been placed in and make optimal decisions in order to increase the survival of the person who is in the situation. In the books/films: “Touching the Void”, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, “A Quiet Place” and “127 Hours” this is clearly evident as the survivors of these stories had to make certain decisions in order for them to survive.
“Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson has many life or death decisions made by the two climbers Joe and Simon that affected them and their chances of survival.
This aspect of the text is shown most evidently in the section where Simon is lowering Joe down Siula Grande after Joe had broken his leg on the return, Simon was lowering Joe down until Joe had gone off of the edge of a cliff that was overhanging a glacier Joe was attempting to call for Simon to no avail due to the conditions at the time, Simon’s snow seat began to crumble away leaving him one of two options, do nothing and die because of it, or cut the rope that tethered him to Joe and take one life in order to save another, Simon’s instinct of self-preservation activated inside of his brain and he made the decision of cutting the rope, sacrificing his partner in order to save himself. A while after cutting the rope, Simon realized that he did the correct thing, why would he stand idly by and let two people die when he could take action and save himself at the cost of someone else’s life this is clearly evidenced in the quote ”Rather than just sit here, feeling sorry for myself or whatever, I’ll get on with it and I’ll die on the way down.”. This shows us that in moments of extreme stress, the human’s will to survive will override any morals or emotions in order to keep itself alive.
Another section of “Touching the Void” that involves a decision that changes a person’s chance of survival is when we go back to seeing from Joe’s perspective while he’s in the crevasse that he fell into after Simon cut the rope. Joe is suspended from an ice bridge inside of the crevasse with no way out of the situation, Joe’s only option is to go down, he realises this and decides to go deeper into the crevasse, but he makes the decision as to not tie a knot in the rope so that when he runs out of rope, he’ll fall and essentially commit suicide, this is evidenced by the quote “I didn’t put a knot into the end of the rope. If there was nothing down there, I would fall, and it would be quick.” This is an example of the human mind ‘breaking’ due to stress, making rash decisions like not putting a knot on the end of the rope would be a decision only made by someone that thought that there was no chance in survival. This provides evidence of the fact that people that don’t remain calm and collected will make irrational decisions that can drastically decrease their own chance of survival.
“A Quiet Place” is a sci-fi thriller directed by John Krasinski that follows the Abbot family after mysterious creatures arrived on the planet and began to hunt humans with their acute sense of hearing.
At the beginning of the film, the family is out scavenging through a town for food and medical supplies, once they had got the medication that they required they began to leave, the youngest son had grabbed a toy space shuttle and the father and mother looked at the toy with a look of fear on their faces, the father then grabbed the toy off of the child and then proceeded to pull out the batteries from the toy and then placed the toy and the batteries onto the table then got onto one knee so that he was eye level with his son and spoke to him in sign language and said “Listen. To. Me. Too. Loud.” This shows us that the family has learnt that the creatures hunted mainly off of their strong sense of hearing and that they cannot risk making any sort of loud noise, which the toy would’ve made if it was turned on. This idea of making a decision in order to increase your odds of survival relates to the section in “Touching the Void” where Simon cuts the rope that connected him to Joe in order to save his life, both choices had the potential to result in death if not made, both choices also increased the chances of survival of the people who made them.
Another section of “A Quiet Place” that shows the human mind’s ability to adapt in order to survive is when the father and son are out gathering food from their traps from a river nearby and the father drops a fish into the river on accident and the son begins to run away, the father grabs him and says to him “Look at me. Listen. The river… is loud. Small sounds… safe. Big sounds… not safe. Unless…there’s another sound nearby… that’s louder. You’re safe.” The father then takes the son to a waterfall and then howls out as loud as he can in order to demonstrate his point the son, after listening for sounds of a creature rushing to the source of the sound, he heard nothing. This shows us that the family has learned that they are able to create a sound as long as there is a louder sound nearby. This contrasts to the section in “Touching the Void” where Joe is suspended from the ice bridge inside of the crevasse because the father was well aware of this technique of survival while Joe was entirely unaware of the sheet of ice that he found and then later crawled across.
A Song of Ice and Fire is the first book in the series that inspired the HBO show “Game of Thrones”. In this book there are many characters that make different decisions that relate to the character’s personality.
The section of the book where the royal family is visiting Winterfell, the home of the Stark family, the king, Robert Baratheon is visiting his friend and ally Eddard Stark after a rebellion against the “Mad King”. The son of Eddard, Bran, is a young boy that is very adventurous, while the royal family was visiting, he climbed a guard tower while his father and the king were out hunting with their hunting parties, once he got near the top of the tower, he spotted the king’s wife, Cerci Lannister having sex with her twin brother, Jamie Lannister. Jamie saw Bran and caught him before he could disappear over the edge he was standing on, and after looking at Cerci and thinking to himself for a while, he says “the things I do for love” and pushes Bran out of the tower, paralyzing him from the waist down for the rest of his life. Jamie pushing Bran out of the tower was a decision made out of fear because he knew that if the king found out about him and his wife, the king would’ve executed him for the entire population of King’s Landing to see, so he pushed him out of the tower hoping that Bran would die from the fall and act as if he simply fell. This relates to the section in Touching the Void where Simon cuts the rope in order to save himself from dying with Joe, both actions were an act of self-preservation and both Jamie and Simon survived because of the decision that they made.
Another section of A Song of Ice and Fire where a character is forced to adapt to the situation that they’re in is when the brother of Cersei and Jamie, Tyrion (who’s also called “The Imp” because he’s essentially a dwarf) is held in the Vale in a sky cell under suspicion of sending an assassin to Winterfell in order to kill Bran after he saw Jamie and Cersei together. He makes the decision to convince the guard to take him to Lysa Aryn, the head of the house Aryn, and demanded a trial by combat. He knew that he would either starve or fall out of his cell (there’s an open wall leading to a cliff drop and the floor is slanted towards the cliff), Lysa says that a “Champion” will fight for her and Tyrion also demands one, after being denied the request for his brother to come and fight for him because it’d take too long for him to arrive, he asks for someone in the crowd to fight for him, thus the sellsword Bron fights for him knowing that because Tyrion is a Lannister, he will be given plenty of gold for his service. This contrast to the section in Touching the Void where Joe lowers himself down into the crevasse because in Tyrion’s case he relied on others in order to save him while Joe had to lower himself into the crevasse and climb the power wall without the guidance or assistance of others.
127 Hours directed by Danny Boyle is a movie about mountaineer Aron Ralston exploring a canyon in Utah, a boulder falls from the top of the canyon, wedging his arm in between the boulder and the canyon’s wall and over 5 days he takes steps in order to cut off his forearm and free himself.
The scene in which Aron’s arm is trapped in between the boulder and the canyon, he was met with a choice, he could’ve chose to remain stuck in that position until he died due to thirst or starvation or was found, but what he chose to do was over the 5 days, take steps to free himself such as breaking his arm so that he could cut all of the way through his arm. This scene is an excellent example in film of a person’s mind making a difficult decision in order to save himself, a choice that most people wouldn’t have the willpower to make. This relates to the section in Touching the Void where Simon cut the rope that tethered Joe to him because in both scenarios they were both met with a decision that would affect their chances of survival, if both Simon and Aron did nothing to save themselves, they would’ve both most likely died.
In this essay I have compared the texts “Touching the Void”, “A Quiet Place”, “A Song of Ice and Fire” and “127 Hours” by which the characters in said books/movies had to adapt to the situation that they were presented within a short period of time in order to make the best decision in order to increase their likelihood of survival. In “Touching the Void” both Joe and Simon had to make decisions to increase their chances of survival, In “A Quiet Place” the Abbot family had to adapt their lives in order to make as little noise as possible, in “A Song of Ice and Fire” Jamie and Tyrion had to quickly predict the consequences of not doing anything and potentially dying, and doing what it took to survive, finally In “127 Hours” Aron had to make the life-changing choice of amputating his arm in order to escape from the canyon.