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Adaptation is a natural instinct that all living beings have, but only to a certain extent. In the movie Cast Away, the protagonist named Chuck Noland, is forced into adapting to an environment, which is nearly impossible to survive on for more than a few weeks. He finds himself stranded on an isolated, tropical island after a disastrous plane crash kills all passengers but him. He remains trapped on the island for four years, and does so with the help of three important things. Initially, it is the picture of his girlfriend Kelly that motivates him to survive to get back to her. Secondly, it is a volleyball named Wilson, which served as a link to society as well as his only friend. Lastly, and the most important aspect which exemplified his adaptation, was his large and crucial character change.
A pocket watch Kelly gave him just before his flight tellingly represents his loss and his new understanding. In it he keeps her picture, like a shrine to his hopes for leaving the island. However, the pocket watch no longer keeps the time, because time stands still for Chuck. He has nowhere else to be, no longer a schedule to keep. With Kelly in mind, Chuck strives to survive and adapt to the land in order to get back to Kelly. Although Kelly is rarely seen in the movie, she played a key role in Chuck’s mind. Her photo was his motivation on the island to survive; it was the last thing he saw before bed, and the first thing he saw when he awoke.
Secondly, one of the most notable aspects of the film is the volleyball named Wilson. Wilson was inside a parcel from the plane, and when Chuck discovers it, he immediately connects to it. His lack of human contact causes him to turn to Wilson, the painted with a face as his only friend and he is in constant conversation with it. One of Chuck’s ways to adapt to his new environment is to allow himself to be comfortable, and regain a sense of recognition. In this case, Wilson plays an important role in keeping Chuck, somewhat, sane during his stay on the island. Taking up conversation with a ball is what many would consider insane, but in Chuck’s case this is an ideal way to cope with the segregation from the rest of the world. It is Wilson who saves Chuck from insanity by waking up his emotions.
Chuck is a man driven by time used to often tell his fellow FedEx employees, “Time is our enemy.” He didn’t even have the time to propose properly to his girlfriend, and its almost as if the movie suggests Chuck has lost a sense of how to put his time to good use. When Chuck lands on the deserted island, he is finally forced to rethink his priorities, and quickly learns that his old value system is inadequate. His main concern is suddenly practical, and his skills in his old life are basically irrelevant to survival in his new one. The isolated setting of the island served as a contrast to the previous hectic world he used to live in. The drastic character change Chuck goes through demonstrates the effect of the island on him. Initially, on the island, he is frustrated when he cannot start a fire, or catch fish. It is clear that he is placed in a world that he is not familiar with, and does not know what to do with himself. As the years pass, he becomes skilled at catching fish, making fires, and even performing dentistry on himself. Basically, Chuck gains the appearance of a cave man, and has dropped half his weight. He has adapted to the island life, although not necessarily content with his new life, he is no longer a blabbering mess. Time was the only thing he had. When he was rescued from the island, he understands he must cherish, and be grateful for his life with Kelly, only to find out she has moved on. Although it took a four-year endurance on a deserted island, Chuck’s character has gone through a drastic change, and now realizes the importance of life and loved ones.
Clearly, there are many factors that lead one to survive such an extraordinary situation as being stranded on an island, and three important things mark Chuck’s adaptation to his new world. First, Chuck’s girlfriend helps him through his though ordeal on the island by her presence is his mind and a picture he keeps of her. Another thing that assists in Chuck’s survival and adaptation is his friend Wilson, the volleyball, by connecting him back to the familiarity of society and his emotions. Finally, through a great change in appearance and character, Chuck shows how adaptation to an unfamiliar world can alter who a person really is. Ultimately, the movie “Cast Away” is a prime example of human adaptation, and how it can go beyond all’s expectations when faced with motivation.æ
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