Monday, March 31, 2014


The Voyage of the Narwhal is the first text of the course to emphasize the intricacies of human relationships within an extreme adventure. Erasmus' and Zeke's transforming relationship creates a lot of the adventure's character for both the reader and the other members of the Narwhal, while Erasmus' and Dr. Boerhaave's relationship is both interesting and safe for the reader to delve into, as the Narwhal sails. Part of this expression is due to the fact that the voyage is much longer than any of the mountaineering adventures we have read. Regardless, I still believe that Barrett spends more time proportionally focusing on relationships and their impacts on the trip than any other author. Many other books held relationships within the trip as one of the most important aspects of the book, but it has never been the main focus: Herzog was more concerned with reaching the summit, Blum never quite conveyed all of her climber's personalities, Krakauer was more concerned with controversy and relationships following his climb, etc.

Further, none of the other texts brought their readers into the minds of those who were left behind. Both Lavinia and Alexandra are dominant characters in the book and their, mainly Lavinia's, attachment to the adventurers allows the reader to openly sympathize with close friends and family left at home. Other books mentioned that the adventurers had ties at home, but never explored them. When Barrett shows the anxiety and uncertainty of a loved person's adventure, it is much easier to relate to than when loved ones are simply mentioned casually. In many ways, knowing that someone you love is in a risky situation is as difficult to cope with as being in a risky situation yourself.

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