Monday, April 14, 2014

Team Mentality: the "we" that makes a well-rounded narrative

*I FORGOT TO CLICK SEND THIS MORNING SORRY!* The book opens with a segment by Lansing explaining how a variety of diaries, documents, and interviews from all members possible were used in order to create the most accurate account possible. Lansing says the attempt is to "re-create in the pages that follow as true a picture of the events as we could collectively produce" but also highlights that he, and he alone, takes responsibility for any "inaccuracies or misinterpretations." This sort of group oriented perspective I think manifests itself nicely in the actual text. I like that Lansing himself was not on the expedition so it is, in some respect, unbiased-- as far as we know, which I acknowledge we don't fully. Drawing on all of these resources however makes me feel attached to the text, trust it, and want to believe that it is in fact truth.

Lansing frequently uses phrases that indicate general feelings of the entire crew. For instance: "Among the other men too, the feeling of security was rapidly disappearing" (48). Or: most of them were quite sincerely happy... It was an observation typical of the entire party" (69).

These statements seem believable since they are extracted from a group of diaries, so generalizations about overall morale, thoughts, and worries can be made or dispelled. I think this makes the book extremely interesting- I really do feel like we get insight into not only the leadership of Shackleton, but the camaraderie of the shipmates, and the overall vibes of the expedition. This makes for enjoyable reading.


  1. One of the things that I think is really interesting about the team dynamic as Lansing portrays it is the development of Orde-Lees as a "villain". For the first couple of parts I was struck by how well everyone on the team seemed to be getting along. When you assemble a group of 28 people to embark on a life threatening expedition, you hardly expect them all to get along, yet they seem to be fine at first. Then, once things turn sour we hear of some discontent for the carpenter McNiesh, and especially for Orde-Lees. While I don't think that Lansing invented this anger, I think that it is totally possible that the anger was embellished to create a hero/villain aspect to the story. It certainly makes the story more engaging when we hear about 27 group members toiling away at sea while their comrade sleeps "comfortably" and shirks all of his duties.

  2. It's interesting that this post also relates so well to the HOC day on Tuesday - when we used teamwork to get our friends safely off the boat and on their way with a packed sled. I'm wondering, however, if this teamwork mentality is natural and, if so, wouldn't it too then be very natural for a hero/villain to emerge out of that? During our mock release of our friends into the arctic, no one developed this mentality, but most likely simply because we all only took the positive side of the expedition: load as much as possible for your friends and forget that you're still stranded and TOO need supplies. Thus, I am wondering if we had done the activity with this in mind, rationing out supplies based on survival of everyone in the group not just the two friends embarking away, would a "bad guy" come out of the woodworks? Would there have been fighting or more assertion when deciding what stays and what goes?

  3. I also found the team dynamic of this narrative to be very interesting. Lansing spends a lot more time developing characters than Albanov did. One element that I found particularly interesting is the way the expedition passed the time. When packing the sleds before setting out, an exception was made to the weight limit for Hussey to bring his banjo. This shows Shackleton’s focus on the team dynamic and moral. This can also be seen in the games that the crew played while on the ice. There is a serious effort put into maintaining team moral and helping the reader understand the team dynamics. Shackleton’s focus on moral is understandable considering the conditions the crew is working through. I agree with Lowy that the anger communicated in this story is likely authentic and not a creation of Lansing. In dealing with high stress conditions it is very important that the team continue to function effectively. This is why Shackleton continually focuses on his team moral.