Exploring Survival and Human Resilience in "The Martian"

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 951 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

Words: 951|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

The Martian by Andy Weir has many resounding themes related to the human condition. Some of these themes are: the effects of desolation and loneliness, the race for survival, making sacrifices, and persevering through even the toughest of tasks. All of these universal themes apply to readers in the current age and will continue to apply in the future. Throughout the novel, Andy Weir expresses the gruelling effects of isolation on the human mind. Mark Watney is stuck on Mars after his crewmates mistake him for dead, and there is no way for him to contact Earth because of a broken communications dish. For many months, Mark lives his days normally, but after finding and repairing the unserviceable Pathfinder rover, Mark falls to the ground and cries because he has just communicated with civilization for the first time in what must have felt like eons. This is very true for his readers as well; humans need mental and emotional support throughout every step of life. In addition to this theme, making sacrifices is another critical one in the novel. A plethora of people worked twenty-four hour shifts to make Mark’s rescue happen as well as an exorbitant amount of money was spent. With selfishness, neither Mark nor the rest of humanity could have been successful in their endeavours. Finally, survival and perseverance are also key themes in the novel. Mars throws impossible curveballs at Mark every day, but somehow he manages to persevere and eventually make it back to Earth. The struggle for survival is true for people not stuck on a desolate planet as well; human civilizations are constantly evolving to produce the finest and fittest lifestyles, ones that will carry their generations into the next millennium. People also need to persevere through tough times. Giving up is an option, but it should never be seen as the solution, as Mark shows readers in the novel. He has the option to give up his struggle every day, but he perseveres through to success. Through The Martian, Andy Weir has masterfully written a novel with many universal themes, and one that deals with many aspects of the human condition.

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In The Martian, Watney’s actions directly influence the evolution of the plot. Mark is left for dead in a barren wasteland, and is only able to survive through his botany and his engineering skills, along with help from the guys at NASA. Watney’s and NASA’s actions are realistic; the guys at NASA spend countless hours and millions of dollars to help rescue Mark, and he does everything he can to stay alive and get rescued. The reader doesn’t encounter any unrealistic aspects of Mars, and this is thanks to Andy Weir’s masterful scientific writing style. Every step of Watney’s way to Schiaparelli crater (where the Ares 4 MAV is located) is realistic. Mark encounters all sorts of terrain and has to adjust accordingly. He also notices the potentially disastrous dust storm early in his journey and drives his way around it. Throughout the novel, Weir doesn’t forget to include any necessary aspects, and this makes the reader feel like a mission to Mars could actually happen in the not-so-distant future. In addition to Mark’s own actions helping him get rescued, his own actions cause him major issues as well. Watney ends up frying the Pathfinder rover because of his own actions; he leans his electrical drill with exposed wiring on a metal table that was in contact with Pathfinder. The Hab breach is also caused as a result of his actions; his mistake of using the same airlock for every EVA put a great amount of stress on it, eventually causing the carbon fibers to tear. The logical and consistent evolution of the plot in The Martian make it seem realistic, and engages the reader.

Although much of the novel is spent talking about the scientific aspects, Mark Watney has many internal conflicts that cause him to grow and change throughout the story. Mark deals with the mental stress of being alone in a barren desert. There must be some part of him that wants to quit everyday, as his odds of survival are extremely low. And he could have, considering he had enough morphine for a lethal dose. But in the end, he resisted the thought and was able to be rescued. He also has to deal with the fears of the unknown. Even though he knows there is no life on Mars, Mark still has fears when he leaves the Hab on his journey to Schiaparelli. However, the main conflict in The Martian is external: A man’s struggle for survival against nature. As a result, The Martian does not satisfy this criterion of a classic.

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Andy Weir’s style of writing enables The Martian to be the brilliantly crafted novel that it is. Weir, a lifelong space nerd, makes sure to use scientific facts every step of the way. The whole novel is a bombardment of scientific information. This “scientific style” paves the way for the success of his novel. His style will be used in the future by other authors aspiring to write similar novels. Weir’s integration of humor is also integral to his writing style; Mark’s humor makes the reader root for him in his quest for survival. To some readers, this combination of science and humor makes Weir’s writing style seem breathtaking. In the end, The Martian is a stupendously written novel that satisfies three of the four criteria of a classic novel. Through its brilliant universal themes, plot development, and the author’s writing style, The Martian could potentially become a classic novel in the future.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Exploring Survival and Human Resilience in “The Martian”. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Exploring Survival and Human Resilience in “The Martian”.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
Exploring Survival and Human Resilience in “The Martian”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Exploring Survival and Human Resilience in “The Martian” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Dec 11 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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