Monday, April 14, 2014

Endurance vs. In The Land Of White Death

Reading Endurance it was interesting to look at the differences between it and In The Land Of White Death.  The most evident difference between the two narratives is that Lansing develops many more characters than Albanov did.  In class we discussed how Albanov does not elaborate on his characters very much.  Many of Albanov’s characters are not named and often the reader is unsure how many people are still traveling with Albanov. On the other hand, Lansing works to develop many of the characters.  Not only does he name characters, but he also develops their backgrounds and personalities.  When Lansing discusses Shackelton’s process for choosing crewmates he provides descriptions of both their personalities and past experiences.  This adds another dimension to the characters and causes the reader to become more attached.  Another clear example of this difference is in Lansing’s discussion of when Orde-lees find’s a bicycle in the hold of the ship and gets lost riding it around on the ice.  These stories, which are not driven by the plot, help to create a more whimsical feel. In In The Land Of White Death the reader is forced to feel the monotony and isolation of the arctic. This is achieved by keeping the reader separated from the crew and only discussing the ultimate driving goal, surviving and walking home.  On the other hand, Endurance helps us to understand a more optimistic crew. The crew of the Endurance is often seen playing games including bridge and dice. This focus on leisure time as well as the challenges of the trek helps to create more well rounded characters. Rather than focusing on the isolation of the Antarctic, as Albanov did in the Arctic, Lansing attempts to develop more of a connection between the crew and the reader causing the reader to become more emotionally invested.

1 comment:

  1. Mike, you make an interesting point about the emphasis Lansing puts on his characters’ personalities and backgrounds. I think the reason why this is so much stronger and more apparent in Endurance as opposed to Albanov’s narrative is the importance of personality and background in Endurance. Shackleton is famed as being “the greatest leader on earth” because (potential spoiler) every single one of his crew members survives and this, I believe, is due in large part to his skill in maintaining the morale of his crew. Throughout the narrative, Shackleton puts serious effort into making sure that all of his crew members get along in order to maintain good morale. In fact, this is so important to him that he even goes to the point of assigning every crew member to a specific tent so as to keep friction among crew members to a minimum. In an environment as harsh as the Antarctic, keeping good morale is critical, something which Shackleton thoroughly understood and strived to maintain. Consequently, in telling this narrative, the personalities and backgrounds of each character in addition to how Shackleton deals with them is of the utmost importance because it is integral to Shackleton’s quality as a leader and, ultimately, to their survival in the harshest environment on earth.