College Papers

In NASA and the other members of his

     In conclusion, I really enjoyed The Martian and would recommend it to
anyone who has a great interest in thrillers, suspense and science. I was told
to read this novel from my sister after hearing how great it was. She was right,
this novel was awesome! With the complete combination of science, thriller, and
adventure, I knew this novel was meant for me. I really appreciated the style
of writing that Weir used, especially his use of continuous humour, which in my
opinion, made the novel ten times better. The idea of an individual being
stranded in the deserted planet of Mars with just his wits of botany and
engineering was fantastic. Throughout the novels progression, I felt like I was
on a rollercoaster ride full of suspense as to whether or not Watney would
survive. In addition, Weir does a tremendous job in explaining the story’s
scientific aspect with an enormous amount of detail. Thus, I believe the story
is reader-friendly. Another strength that this novel portrays is its choice of narrator.
Mark Watney was an all-around fantastic narrator. Through his unbelievable
intelligence and determination to survive, I was able to grow a realistic
relationship with him. However, with this said, the only thing I wished Weir
would have done was provide a more detailed background proclaiming his family
life. With this said, I would have appreciated seeing the story through the
perspective of his parents. However, I really liked how Weir introduced us to
NASA and the other members of his crew. As a result, it made the story much
more interesting by changing the setting and tone. Moreover, the story
effectively uses the imagery of Mars to proclaim an intense and realistic visualisation.
I really enjoyed the setting of Mars due to the fact that I have never read a
novel that took place outside of Earth. More importantly, Weir did a tremendous
job in providing as much detail as possible when explaining the setting of Mars
and its many issues accompanied with it. The character that I enjoy the most
was Mark Watney. This is mainly because the story is about him and his adventure
of surviving Mars. In addition his courage and ambition was very inspirational.
Although he may have felt hopeless at times, he never gave up and stayed
positive. With this said, this novel can relate to world issues today as it
reminds us about the importance of never giving up and always give our one
hundred percent.  Likewise, I see Watney
as a hero and inspirational character. After reading this novel, I believe that
being courageous and determined is the only solution when times are stressful.
We must accept reality, stay positive, and believe that everything will be
okay.

     Throughout the novel, Any Weir utilizes
imagery and symbolism to portray hidden messages that cannot be seen from its
literal meaning. Additionally, its effectiveness creates interest and suspense to
the story. Symbolic imagery in The
Martian include the Hab, potatoes, RTG, and Pathfinder. The Hab is
essentially Watney’s home in Mars. It is where he can reflect and rejuvenate
after long days of work. Thanks to the Hab, Watney can feel like he’s back on
Earth and dismiss the feeling of isolation as he is able to “kick back and
watch twentieth-century TV” (Weir 57) such as Three’s company and The Dukes
of Hazzard. As a result of its homelike feeling, and Watneys great
relationship with it, Watney feels anxious when leaving “sight of the Hab” (Weir
89). In addition to the Hab being Watney’s home, it was also turned into “62
meters of farmland” (Weir 24), containing his main food source of potatoes.
Thus, if it wasn’t for the Hab, Watney would have to face the unfortunate and
continuous feeling of isolation. More importantly, the Hab allowed Watney to
live on Mars for two and a half years before his rescue. The “twelve whole
potatoes” (Weir 27) that NASA left the Ares 3 crew for Thanksgiving was very
significant because it prevented Watney from starvation as he was able to use
them to grow sixty-two metres worth of potatoes. Additionally, the potatoes
symbolize the quality of life and importance of giving. Thanksgiving
commemorates the hospitality Americans had when they prevented the pilgrims
from starvation as they entered the new and free land of America. Likewise, the
special day of Thanksgiving also saved Watney from starvation when he entered
the unfamiliar land of Mars. The RTG, short form for radioisotope thermal
generator, was effectively used by Watney to keep him warm during the long
journey to Pathfinder and Schiaparelli. Due to the extreme cold conditions in
Mars, Watney would have died from hypothermia in his rover during his long
trips. But, thanks the RTG, which basically acted as a heater, Watney was able
to acquire Pathfinder and reach Schiaparelli where he was rescued. However,
because the RTG contains “Plutonium-238” (Weir 87) it is very radioactive and
poisonous. As a result, although the RTG was needed to keep him warm, it could
have also killed him. This is significant because it symbolizes the many risks
Watney had to take in order to survive the nature of Mars. The final symbolic
object is Pathfinder. Pathfinder was very significant in the survival of Watney
because it granted him communication with NASA. Before he acquired Pathfinder,
Watney was feeling hopeless and was worried he will die on Mars before seeing
or hearing another human being. However, after hearing a simple “yes” (Weir
139), from NASA, Watney was full of joy and excitement and states how after “spending
three months as the loneliest man in history, it’s finally over” (Weir 136).
Therefore, Pathfinder symbolizes the hope Watney inherits after hearing from
another human being. Likewise from that day forward, Watney felt more
courageous, confident and his hope of being rescued vividly increased.

     The use of
literary devices is essential in creating a good novel as it creates a unique
style of writing. Moreover, using such a diverse literature keeps the reader
interested and the novel memorable. In The
Martian, Andy Weir does a fantastic job in utilizing a large amount of
profound literary devices. The main and continuous literary device that Weir
uses is profanity. Profanity is very critical in showcasing the true reality of
frustration of Watney and many other characters. More importantly, it creates a
very realistic literature in which the reader can relate to due to the fact
that showing our emotions is part of our nature. For example, in the opening
sentence of the novel, Watney expresses his current state by stating, “I’m
pretty much fucked” (Weir 1). This opening sentence is very significant because
it immediately grabs the reader’s attention by creating suspense. Another good
example of Weir using profanity to express ones emotion is when a member of
NASA says “FUCK! You have got to be fucking kidding me!” (Weir 67) after
realizing Watney’s alive and stranded on Mars. In this situation, the use of
profanity is to be expected as it represents the overwhelming situation and the
unbelievable feeling that NASA must be going through. The next literary device
that Weir tends to use is Allusion. Throughout Watney’s time on Mars, the only
type of activity he does, expect solving problems, is watching old episodes
form the 1960 television show, Three’s
Company. As a result, he makes a reference to Mr. Furley saying, “I like
Mr. Furley more than Ropers” (Weir 37). Another example of Weir using allusion
is when he alludes to aqua man by saying “How come Aquaman can control whales?
They’re mammals!” (Weir 76).  The use of
comedy is another major literature device found in The Martian. It is revealed through the Watney and is used to add
comical relief. It is appreciated due to the fact it makes the story more
enjoyable. Some examples of comedy include “It’s true you know. In space, no
one can hear you scream like a little girl” (Weir 433), “”If I survive this, I’ll tell people I was pissing rocket fuel”
(Weir 146),  “Live another sol would be an awesome name for a James bond movie”
(Weir 321) etc.          

     With thorough
analysis, the reader is able to acknowledge and appreciate the recurring themes
of survival, isolation, fear, and hopelessness. These themes are all revealed
through main character, Mark Watney, divulging his true identity. Moreover, they
are most prevalent in establishing the plots progression. Following the storm
that lead Mark Watney stranded on Mars, the only solution he had was survive. Using
his astonishing skills of botany and engineering, Watney was able to defeat the
natural state of Mars, and more importantly, defeat death. Although producing
his own food was real progress, he would still be in danger of starvation, but
still grants him the “range of survival” (Weary 25). However, using his
instincts, Watney would finally overcome starvation by “reducing calorie intake
by minimizing manual labour…set the temperature of the Hab higher than normal, meaning
my body would expand less energy” (Weir 25-26). This is significant because it
portrays how several issues are accompanied with Mars, and how Watney is able
to overcome them with his ultimate abilities of solving problems, taking risks,
and determination. After producing his own source of food and water, Watney
gained a ton of confidence which ultimately increased his chances of survival. For
example he never showed any worriedness when he had to travel “800 kilometres”
(Weir 111) in order to acquire Pathfinder, which granted him communication with
NASA. Isolation is a comprehensible theme in The Martian as Mark Watney is literally “left him behind in a
barren, unreachable, godforsaken wasteland” (Weir 170). As Watney wrote his
daily log, he was uncertain if anyone would even read it and states, “I guess
someone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now” (Weir 1). This
expresses the unfortunate realization that Watney is all alone in a different
planet and the high probability that he might be obliterated, thus vulnerable
to death. Every time Watney leaves the Hab and steps foot on the rocky surface
of Mars, he is remembered about his unfortunate state and how he would “give
anything for a five-minute conversation with anyone” (Weir 117). However, after
he was able to get Pathfinder to function and communicate with NASA, Watney was
so excited and praises how after “spending three months as the loneliest man in
history, it’s finally over” (Weir 136). Hearing from another human being was
very pleasing as it gave Watney a sigh of relief and hope that he will be
rescued. Mark Watney expressing the theme of fear was expected due to the fact
of being an outsider in a completely different planet. With this said, Watney
had to face the fear of whether or not he would live another day as he had no
control of preventing a natural disaster from occurring such as another dust
storm or mechanical or system failure. Likewise, he became very obsessive to
the point where “he can’t sleep as every sound scares the shit out of me.”
(Weir 311). When Watney hears that his crew is coming back to save him, he is
nervous and states “Dying would suck, but my crewmates dying, would be way
worse” (Weir 284). This quote is significant because it expresses the fear
Watney has when risking the lives of the rest of the crew. Although he might
not what to die, he does not what to be responsible for the deaths of five
other people, showcasing his generosity and unselfishness. Moreover, the fact
that Weir is all alone in the deserted planet of Mars, frightens him as he
believes he will die before seeing another human being. The theme of
hopelessness is depicted through Mark Watney as he realizes his time on Mars is
only getting worse. Every time he completes a task, something goes wrong,
creating another problem. For example, after the Hab exploded, Watney loses
control and hope by stating “You know what!? Fuck this! Fuck this airlock, fuck
that Hab, and fuck this whole planet! Seriously, this is it! I’ve had it! I’ve
got a few minutes before I run out of air and I’ll damned…All I have to do is
sit here and I’ll die” (Weir 185). This shows how Watney is giving up and
accepting reality that his time has come. He sees no purpose in trying to
survive anymore as issues only tend to increase and accumulate over time.
Moreover, not only does he have to find a way to produce food, water and
communication, he also has to fight the natural world of Mars.

    
Characterisation is a vital component in the production of a good novel as
it enables the reader to thoroughly capture and relate to the many characters
and events. In The Martian, Weir does
a tremendous job in creating a profound relationship with main character and
protagonist, Mark Watney. Although Watney may seem like a dull and flat character
through his description of botanist and engineer astronaut, his courage and
ambition makes him a truly remarkable character. Being described as “the very
lowest ranked member of the crew” (Weir 2), is ironic and does not serve him
justice because no one would have ever thought he would be able to survive on
Mars with just his wits. If it wasn’t for his skills of botany and engineering,
Watney would have died. Using his complex imagination and obvious skill of
botany, Watney was able to expand his resource of food by growing “62 square metres”
(Weir 24) of potatoes in the Hab. Not only did he harvest his own food, he also
produced his own water through the reaction of burning hydrazine. Producing food
and water on a different planet is an accomplishment on its own, making him the
first person to do so. Thus, Watney’s changes from just an ordinary botanist to
“the best botanist on the planet” (Weir 172). Throughout the dreadful time on
Mars, Watney had many other complications such as the explosion of the Hab due
to the excessive “transformation of oxygen” (Weir 56), destroying a numerous
amount of his potatoes. Although Watney had to inherit many problems, he never
gave up and stayed positive, signifying his great strength of perseverance. Other
than his great strength of intelligence, the reader is also introduced to the
humorous side of Watney. According to Dr. Irene shields, psychologist for the
Ares mission, Watney would “crack more jokes and get everyone laughing” (Weir
106) when his crew showed signs of “stress and moodiness” (Weir 106). This is
significant because it portrays the true appearance of Watney in which he uses humour
as his fundamental solution for coping with stress. With this said throughout each
log, Watney had at least one phrase that made me laugh. For example, just after
discovering his ability to grow potatoes on Mars he says “Hell yeah I’m a
botanist! Fear my botany powers!” (Weir 18) and says how “Duct tape is magic
and should be worshipped” (Weir 259). Additionally, Watney is an understanding
and compassionate individual. This is shown when he remains calm and refuses to
blame his crew, even though they abandoned him in the deserted planet of Mars
and states how in their position, “I would have done the same thing” (Weir 2).
The other five members of Ares 3 crew include, Commander Melissa Lewis, Major
Rick Martinez, Dr. Chris Beck, Alex Vogel, and Beth Johannsen. Due to the fact
that NASA did not what to tell the other crew members that Watney was alive
until they had a plan to save him, they were introduced utterly towards the end
of the novel.  Commander Lewis, the first
woman to lead an Ares crew to Mars is very vigilant as her duty is to protect
each crew member. In addition to being their commander, she was also the geologist.
After the unfortunate incident, leaving Watney stranded on Mars, she had a
guilty conscience and states “I left him behind. In a barren, unreachable,
godforsaken wasteland” (Weir 170). Therefore, to redeem herself and overcome
her immense shame, she, with the help of her crew, agree to return back to Mars
and save Watney. Moreover, Commander Lewis is very significant because under
her magnificent control and orders, the crew was capable of saving Watney.
Martinez is very important to the crew as he is identified as the “best trained
pilot” (Weir 388). He’s the one responsible for getting Watney and the crew
back to Earth in one piece. In addition, back on Earth Martinez is married to
Marissa and together raise their young boy, David. Martinez being a devoted Catholic
was very significant because later in the novel, Watney “chipped his religious
item into long splinters”, (Weir 41) using it to burn hydrazine, thus producing
water. Dr. Chris Beck is the crew’s doctor and specializes in EVA’s, walking
outside of space. With this said, he is the one responsible for grabbing Watney
from outer space and bringing him into the airlock, ensuring his safety.
Towards the end of the novel, it is revealed that he has a crush on Johannsen
when Watney influences him to tell Johannsen about his feelings toward her or
he will “regret it forever” (Watney 241). After following Watney’s advice, he
confronts Johannsen and from that day forward, his confidence is strengthened.
Vogel, the only member who is not American is described as a “German chemist”
(Weir 235). He is the one responsible for making a bomb, which was used to
“blow the VAL” (Weir 427), to reduce the amount of air inside the airlock.
Likewise to Martinez, Vogel is married to Helena and have two kids, Eliza and Victor.
Johannsen is described by Watney as a “hot chick who went to Mars” (Weir
231).She is responsible in maintaining the airlocks computer and software
systems. Due to the fact that she is the youngest, she was “picked to survive”
(Watney 296) if the probe ends up to fail. Everyone would take pills and die,
leaving Johannsen with all the food and supplies in order return back to Earth.
Other minor characters include the various members of NASA, they include Teddy
Sanders, Venkat Kapoor, Bruce Ng, Mitch Henderson, and Mindy Park. Also
involved in the mission of bringing Watney back to Earth is the China National
Space Administration, led by Guo Ming and Zhu Tao. Both members form NASA and
China National Space Administration are very significant as they worked all
night long in order to construct a safe plan in which granted the safety of
Watney’s arrival back on Earth.

     Foremost, the
novels plot progresses around astronaut and botanist, Mark Watney, as he tries
to survive the deserted planet of Mars, with nothing but his intelligence and
already landed supplies. It all began when NASA sent the crew of six astronauts,
Ares 3, to Mars, in hope of expanding their knowledge of humanity by analysing
the geological landscape of Mars and returning samples back to earth. However, when
encountered with a dust storm with exceptionally high winds of “up to 150 kph” (Weir
4), the crew is ordered to leave their initial landing site of Acidalia Planiria and return back to Earth. Easier
said than done as they had “to go out in the storm to get from the Hab to the MAV”
(Weir 5), to ensure each and every one’s safety. The Hab, commonly known as habitation
module, is essentially what astronaut’s call home because it is the one place
where they can live comfortably without having to wear a space suit. On the
other hand, the MAV, short form for Mars Ascent Vehicle, is a spacecraft in
which astronauts use to leave the surface of Mars. With this said, all members
of Ares 3 reached the MAV, expect Watney, after “one of those long thin antennae
from the Hab” (Weir 5), slammed into him, tearing his suit and cutting the side
of his stomach open. In addition to the injury, the antennae had also swept him
into the deserted planet of Mars, leaving him “almost totally buried in the
sand” (Weir 5). Due to the low visibility caused by the sand storm, the crew
rationally concludes that Watney is dead, leaving him all alone in the
uninhabited planet of Mars. When conscious again, Watney realizes he is no
longer with his crew but left stranded on Mars and “right that moment I knew I
was screwed” (Weir 7). This quote is significant because it is later revealed
that Weir is in fact not ‘screwed’ as he is able to survive, reunite with his
crew, and step foot on planet Earth once more, all thanks to his astonishing
skills of botany and engineering. Luckily for Watney, the Hab was still intact
and in good condition after the storm. Thus, Watney uses the Hab as a permanent
house in Mars where he rejuvenates after a long day of many tasks. Right when
he enters the Hab Watney removes his space suit, finds medical supplies and
stitches up his wound. The first utmost problem holding Watney back from
surviving was the significant low amount of food and water. He only had sixty-five
days’ worth of food and had to face “at least four years” (Weir 14) in Mars.
But after all, Watney was a botanist and thus, came up with a fantastic idea
that would change history forever. He gathered an enormous amount of Martian
soil, which is found on the surface of Mars, mixed it with his own feces, and
then sprinkled some Earth soil he had on top. To complete the process, he would
pour a bucket of water, obtained from the water reclaimer, into the complex
mixture of soil. The entire 3 was completed inside the Hab, turning it into a little
farm. Through this process, Watney was able to successfully grow and harvest
his own potatoes, increasing his chances of survival and “technically colonised
Mars” (Weir 172). Although the Hab contained a well-working water reclaimer, it
wasn’t sufficient to keep him from dehydrating also continuing the harvest of
potatoes. As a result, Watney had to increase the production of water by
burning hydrazine. Through the burning of hydrazine, he projects to make a
sensational amount of “600 litres of water” (Weir 35). Combing the greater
production of both food and water at a faster rate, Watney was able to last on
Mars until sol 549. The next task that Watney had to complete was the
development of communication. In order to survive, Watney had to develop some
sort of communication with Earth. In doing so, he had to retain an object
called Pathfinder. However, Pathfinder was about “800 kilometers away from him”
(Weir 111), creating yet again, a problem. Although each crew is given a
vehicle, called a rover, it is not capable of driving long distances,
especially under the very cold temperature of Mars. As a result, Watney
modifies it by adding solar cells and an extra battery which was obtained from
another rover. The modifications was a success as he was able to acquire
pathfinder and bring it back to the Hab where he set it up and began
communicating with NASA. After many other problems were realized and fixed by
both Watney and NASA, they finally concluded with a plan that will ensure his
absence from Mars and his arrival back on Earth. The plan involved Watney to drive
to the projected area of “Schiaparelli” (Weir 254) where he will ascent back
into earth using Ares 4 MAV. With this said unlike Pathfinder, which was a much
shorter trip, driving to Schiaparelli from the Hab is about a “3200-kilometer
overland drive” (Weir 254). With this said, Watney will need to yet again build
modifications to its rover by adding an oxygenator, which essentially breaks up
Carbon Dioxide, acting as life support. He then had to expand the size of the
rover in order to bring plenty of food and water, removing unnecessary parts
form the rover and attaching a trailer that he made to the back of it. When all
these modifications where complete, he finally reached the MAV, where he had to
do a set of other modifications. In order to reach Hermes, where his crew will
be to save him, the MAV had to be as light as possible. Thus, instructed by
NASA, he had to remove the entire control panel and walls, which drastically
reduced the size. The walls were then replaced with Hab canvas. When Watney was
close enough to Hermes, one of his crewmate, Vogel, pulled him “into the
airlock by the tether” (Weir 433) and was reunited with his crew. According to
Watney, that was the “happiest day of my life” (Weir 435) as he accomplished
the impossible and will be able to share his story back on Earth. Overall, the
story is written and told from the perspective of Watney through the many daily
logs he made. Likewise, through the continuous cycle of finding problems and
then solving them, the story can feel a little repetitive. Throughout the
story, Weir consecutively changed its narrator form Watney to NASA, back on
Earth, which kept the reader engaged, adding suspense to the plot.