Reading Responses by Julian Desaulnier for Mme Lewis.
Q. What is the theme of The Martian?
In the beginning of the book, we find American astronaut, Mark Watney, stranded on Mars. There was a giant sandstorm on SOL 6 that the crew believed killed Watney moments before they were forced to abort the mission and blast off from Mars. Alone on a hostile planet, with limited supplies, and no way to communicate with Earth, the story presents one problem after another. Mark Watney has to overcome these challenges in order to survive. The book’s theme deals with never giving up. Watney can either accept death or get to work. He chose to use science to solve problems, one step at time. For instance, in Log Entry Sol 7, Watney writes, “Of course, I don’t have any plan for surviving four years on one year of food. But one thing at a time here. For now, I’m well fed and have a purpose: Fix the d---- radio”.
Once news of Watney’s survival reaches earth and his crew mates, everyone does their part of help rescue him. The second theme of the book is everyone working together to bring Mark Watney home. Nasa works to rush rescue supplies, the crew of the Hermes space ship sacrifice their return trip to return to Mars, and the people of earth come together support rescue efforts. In Watney’s last log entry, he writes, “If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human, that it is found in every culture without exception . . . And because of that, I had billions of people on my side”.
Q. Describe how Mark Watney felt at the beginning and end of the story.
At the beginning of the story, we find astronaut Mark Watney in what seems to be a hopeless situation. After realizing that he is on Mars alone, Watney thinks, " cause I'll surely die here. Just not on SOL 6 like everyone think's I did." Later Watney goes into more detail about just how hopeless he feels about his situation. He writes, "I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I'm dead I'm in a Hab designed to last thirty-one days.
If the oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. In none of these happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death."
At the end of the story Watney feels super happy that he got rescued. He simple writes, "This is the happiest day of my life."
Q. How would you describe Mark Watney's personality?
When Watney wakes up stranded on Mars in a hopeless situation we find out what he is really made of. Mark Watney's personality is defined by never giving up, working hard and by his silly , childish and sarcastic sense of humour. For instance, when Watney is working on repairing the atmospheric regulator he says, "Hey, let's allow a fatal lack of oxygen that will make everyone drop dead!". When Watney's not working to stay alive he entertains himself with Commander Lewis's '70s tv collection. After watching the Duke's of Hazzard Watney says, "And seriously. . .it's clear the the General Lee can outrun a police cruiser. Why doesn't Rosco just to the Duke farm and arrest them when they're no in the car?".
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