Monday, April 29, 2013

Killer Landscapes

In this narrative more than any other, nature itself seems to fight back and even actively attack the men. We have read other works in which mountains seem to send avalanches or storms down on expeditions to try to stop them from summiting. For example, in Touching my Father’s Soul, Norgay describes the mountain as a goddess. This goddess simply allowed men to stand on the summit, but she often prevented expeditions from succeeding. Norgay’s is not the only account of personification of nature. Human imagery is often applied to mountains, and avalanches seem to be sent down specifically to wash men off to the bottom.
            The personification of nature and all of the elements is even more prominent in Endurance. Not only does the ice move, but it seems to chase them. It is an enemy that requires constant surveillance- it never sleeps, it is unpredictable, it has unlimited power. The reader gets the sense that the men on the expedition only survived because the ice allowed them to escape its grasp. The ice is a powerful enemy that knows its own power. Lansing describes it, saying, “the impression of its titanic power was heightened by the unhurried deliberateness of the motion” (pg 4). The ice abuses the ship, trying its best to break her in half. Worsely describes the ice as a “grinding, hungry pack” (pg 55).
            Coupled with the ice is the unending night that accompanies winter, and the storms that blow hurricane force winds and snow into the tents. While these elements are not personified nearly as much as the ice, they still seem to chase the men wherever they go. This environment is extremely hostile, and the descriptions in this narrative make nature into everyone’s enemy, who chases and makes everyone sleep with one eye open. 

1 comment:

  1. I also agree that the ice is definitely portrayed as a formidable adversary to the expedition in this narrative. I think this becomes especially apparent when Lansing describes the Endurance as it succumbs to the pressure of the ice pack. He repeatedly describes the ship as being stabbed and pushed, which makes the ice seem even that much more aggressive. I hadn't thought about how this was similar to the portrayal of the goddess in Touching my Father's Soul before and I think that portrayal raises interesting questions about how people relate to their landscape. There does not seem to be a spiritual component to how the sailors perceive their environment in this narrative, and I think that probably stems from the cultural differences in perceptions of wilderness and the natural world.