15th August 2017

Significant Connections Essay

“Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive.

It is palpable that all human beings come across a time in their life where they may be having to tackle a certain type of survival, this may be mental, emotional, social or physical. Everyone who is put in one of these situations deals with it in a different way, and it is those that take in their stride and do their best to help themselves that survive. The texts: “Rabbit Proof Fence,” directed by Phillip Noyce, “Touching the Void,” written by Joe Simpson, “Extraordinary Measures,” directed by Tom Vaughan and “Reasons to stay Alive,” written by Matt Haig, all address a person’s ability to accept the circumstances they have been put in and the way people can adapt to them and push their limits and strengths to survive these rough times. These individual people overcame their difficult situations because of the way they used all their given strength, acceptance, skills and determination to survive.

Extraordinary Measures

The film Extraordinary Measures directed by Tom Vaughan shows the nature of survival when John Crowley and his wife begin to find an enzyme cure for his children, Megan and Patrick who have Pompe Disease. “Desperate times cause for desperate measures.”

The first aspect of survival that was shown in the film ‘Extraordinary Measures’ was how hard people can push themselves and how much risk and effort people put in to save their loved ones. John shows this because of how hard he pushed himself and how he put as much time and money in as he could to try to save his children. This aspect is shown in the film when Dr Stonehill along with both of the Crowley parents are sitting in a waiting room at the hospital, awaiting the response in their children after they have been given the enzyme to save their lives. Dr Stonehill says to Eileen and John, “You guys have done everything humanly possible, now let’s just see what the tests show.” Dr Stonehill says this, emphasising the fact that they have done everything they can for Meghan and Patrick deteriorating further from the disease. This line supports the fact that both Eileen and John as parents have tried so hard to save their children and no person would ever expect of having to deal with this upsetting situation from the beginning. It also shows us that Dr Stonehill understands the test may not go as planned and he needs to get this across to the parents.  Aside from distant voices and monitors beeping, the background noise in this scene comes across faintly. These sounds give the impression of how the hospital wings are at night with family waiting in silence, anticipating, and not being able to do anything more to help, just like the Crowley parents.

Reasons to Stay Alive

The nature of survival is also shown in the text ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ written by Matt Haig. This is the true story of how Matt overcame depression and anxiety that almost killed him. “My solution was never medical. What helped me was time.”

The first aspect of survival that was shown in the text ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ was the acceptance that Matt had towards the situation he was in and how he showed that accepting your difficulties will help you understand and move forward . Matt showed this aspect in the middle of the text when he was in the midst of his battle with severe depression and anxiety. He states, “Generally, day-to-day, I don’t fight it. I accept things more. And besides, fighting it actually makes it worse. The trick is to befriend depression and anxiety. To be thankful for them, because you can deal with it a whole lot better. And the way I have befriended them is by thanking them for my thin skin.” This line shows the reader that Matt understood his boundaries so he knew how far he could be pushed or how deep he could go out of his comfort zone before the would reach his limit and his thin skin would become his disadvantage. This awareness took Matt a long time to develop. When he was first diagnosed he could not immediately tell what kind of things would break him down and how far he could be pushed. It is especially important to have an awareness of yourself because if you push yourself too far then you are at risk of completely getting rid of your chances of surviving. His knowledge and acceptance of his illness is again shown in the book when Matt states, “Anxiety runs your mind at fast forward rather than normal ‘play’ speed, so addressing the issue of mental pace isn’t easy but it works.” In this line Matt illustrates to us that he learnt to adapt himself and manage certain aspects of his illness. This way he was not only acknowledging and learning but it was also helping him take a step towards recovery and survival. From this the viewer learns that understanding and accepting your situation will help assist your survival rates, because you are aware of what boundaries and limits you hold.

A second aspect of survival that was shown in the text is that by surrounding yourself with people who influence you in a positive way and help you through rough patches will increase your rates of survival. In Matt’s case, he says that Andrea, his girlfriend, was the biggest influence because she was there for him right from the beginning and whenever he called or needed her to help him get through a difficult period she would be there. He states near the end of the book while going through a panic attack, “I needed Andrea. The air was getting thinner… I stepped into the London night and ran back the short distance to the cafe where Andrea, my eternal saviour, waited for me.” This line in the book presents to us that for Matt to get through a panic attack without completely relapsing into his anxiety and depression, he needed a helping hand, and that in a survival situation like this that is completely understandable. Using other people’s skills and knowledge can help assist your survival because they may see it in a different way to you and you shouldn’t have to go through everything on your own anyway. Matt also showed his need for a helping hand when he says, “I just needed home. I just needed Mum and Dad.” This part of the text also shows the viewer that by being around supportive people, family in this case, and by feeling safe and in your natural environment, you have a better chance survival, whether it be physical, emotional, metal or social.

In comparison, the aspect of surrounding yourself with positive people to assist your survival is similarly shown in the film “Extraordinary Measures” directed by Tom Vaughan. In this film, Meghan and Patrick Crowley had both of their parents who did everything in their will to save their children’s lives. They put in all the time, money and effort that they could to find an enzyme cure because of the love they had for their children. This is shown the same way in Reasons to Stay Alive. Matt’s family did everything they could and understood every aspect of depression and anxiety to save Matt’s life. From these two movies the viewer recognises the way family, friends and any other kind of support system can help to assist those in tougher times. If Meghan and Patrick didn’t have their parents fighting and fighting to find a cure, then they wouldn’t be here today. The same goes for Matt, understandably he relied on his girlfriend and parents for a lot of emotional and mental support to pull him through.

Touching the Void

The nature of survival is shown in the film “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson. This is a true story based off Joe’s experience climbing up Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.
“Every now and then, things go wildly wrong.”

The first aspect of survival that was shown in the book “Touching the Void” was how setting small goals for yourself to help you reach the more significant goals can assist in your survival. Joe illustrates this aspect when himself and Simon are descending the mountain and Joe has fallen into a crevasse. After he gets out of the crevasse, he understands the fact that he is now going to have to get himself and his broken leg all the way back to base camp and to Simon and Joe while being dehydrated, weak, hungry and extremely tired. Goal setting is shown in the book when Joe was slowly making his way back to base camp. He illustrates this in this line, “I forgot why I was doing it; forgot even the idea that I would probably make it. Running on instincts that I never suspected were in me…I timed myself religiously…I looked ahead to a landmark and gave myself half an hour to reach it…it felt so damned important to beat the watch…the watch became as crucial as my good leg.” This line shows how realistic and positive Joe was with his goal setting and after everything he had been through, all he wanted to do was succeed these minimal goals. Joe did this by making the goals achievable and obtainable. In the quote given, he said that the watch was as crucial as his good leg, this part describes that at the point in time, Joe was slowly trekking his way back, goal setting was the only thing, one of the most important things, that was motivating and almost bribing him to keep going and without them he would quit and completely halt his chances of survival. The reader comes to learn from this that everyone has their own ways of making it through challenging situations, whether it be a situation like Joe where his mental, emotional and physical skills were being tested or just something plain physical, there are always certain objectives or goals that will pull your through.

A second aspect of survival that was shown in the book was the way Joe risked certain things to help him survive. This situation occurs when Simon has cut the rope and Joe later finds himself trapped in a crevasse. He chooses to abseil further into it, not knowing what he will find but hoping to find a way out of it. This aspect is demonstrated in the book when Joe writes: “The torment of anticipating something unknown…I hung shaking on the rope with my helmet pressed to the ice.” He knew that there was such a large risk in lowering himself further into the crevasse and the anticipation that was involved with this certain risk was killing him, but without doing this Joe would have been left stranded in the crevasse and would not have survived the situation he was in. Another quote from Joe Simpson that exhibits this aspect is from the end of the book where Joe is talking about his survival and he says, “You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions, you know. If you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed.” This line is a perfect representation of risk taking as he says that you just have to keep making decisions even if they are wrong. This teaches the reader that even if you do make a wrong choice or regret something it may just lead you where you want to go and not be wrong at all.

In comparison, “Reasons to Stay Alive” written by Matt Haig also shows the aspect of goal setting throughout his journey the same way Joe Simpson in Touching the Void does. When Matt was diagnosed with depression at the beginning of the book, he was in such shock and in such a bad place that he didn’t even think about setting goals or trying anything to beat the illness. But throughout the book he slowly came out of his shell and began setting goals to assist him and he did this by understanding his circumstances to come up and develop the goals. In a way Matt did this very similarly to Joe in “Touching the Void” because once Joe understood his situation of being stuck in the crevasse and then finding himself having to slowly find his way back to base camp, setting goals thoroughly assisted him and motivated him to continue pushing. What the viewer learns from these two men is that understanding your situation comes very hand in hand with setting goals to push chances of survival and success.

Rabbit Proof Fence

The nature of survival was in the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce. This film is also based on the true story, about 3 aboriginal girls being taken from their homes and to Moore River Native Settlement, then walking 2,400km and nine weeks till they return home.
“She clever that girl. She wants to go home.”

The first aspect of survival that was shown in the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” by Phillip Noyce was Molly using her knowledge and skills of the Australian Outback to help them find their way back home both safely and without being caught. When Molly first decides that she wants to take both herself and the two girls, Daisy and Gracie back home to Jigalong, she becomes very precise with her decision-making and knows that if they were to leave Moore River at any given time and in any given weather then there would be a strong chance of them getting caught by Moodoo, the settlements tracker. So while everyone else in the settlement was making their way up to the church, Molly notices that it is about to rain. She sees this as the best time for her and the girls to escape because nobody will see and the weather will cover their tracks. This decision is shown in the dialogue between the three girls when Gracie first initiates she does not want to go as she has little faith in what the girls can achieve. Gracie begins by saying, “We like it here” and Daisy is concerned, “That tracker, he gonna get us and put us in that room.” Molly then sternly says: “He not gonna get us. We just keep walking and the rain will cover our tracks.” This conversation shows not only Molly’s knowledge of the outback and her understanding of the benefits of the weather but also the strong, positive sense of leadership and decision-making that Molly has in the group of girls and that she has very strong beliefs and knows that if she makes all the correct decisions then they’ll be able to make it back. Molly’s knowledge of the outback was also shown in the film when the girls were walking along the river and the tracker was slowly catching up. In this situation, Molly ordered Daisy to give her, her bag. Molly then placed it over reeds in the river. She then says, “In the water, we need to cover our tracks.” This sent the tracker in a different direction to which the girls were heading. They then hid in the reeds until the tracker passed and they were able to continue on. From this we learn that without all of Molly’s knowledge and skill in the outback of Australia, her and the girls would not have had nearly as good a chance of making it home back to Jigalong. As they were also in a time testing situation, it was very essential they stick to a plan and use everything they can pull together.

In “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson, Joe utilises the aspect of using your knowledge of the environment around you to help assist your survival the same way Molly does in “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce. Joe was a very experienced and trained climber so when he first broke his leg when him and Simon were descending Siula Grande he knew exactly how to deal with the situation and he did so by slowly being lowered down by Simon. Then when disaster struck and he found himself stuck in the crevasse all by himself he caught onto the fact that he could scale down the crevasse and then out the other side. He knew mountain climbing back to front so by using this knowledge he actually saved himself from dying on Siula Grande. Molly also uses this aspect in “Rabbit Proof Fence” when her, Daisy and Gracie first decide to leave Moore River Settlement and walk their way all the way back to Jigalong. She knows the Australian like no other and she knew ways to get food, water and she understood every hard aspect of terrain she would have to cross.

A human beings survival is based on their adaptability, determination, attitude and knowledge of their circumstances. These qualities are evident in the texts: “Rabbit Proof Fence,” directed by Phillip Noyce, “Touching the Void,” written by Joe Simpson, “Extraordinary Measures,” directed by Tom Vaughan and “Reasons to stay Alive,” written by Matt Haig. In these texts, the lead individuals were faced with extreme situations, mainly life threatening, where they had to utilise these key attributes to help survive. It was also important that they used all the extra support around them, like family  and friends, the environment and medical technology. The sense of reality in all of these texts, as they are true stories, is very empowering as the reader/viewer. You understand that everyone may go through a challenging time sometime in their life and you’re not always going to have to go through it on your own. Whatever adversity you are faced with, the help and support of those around you, along with your own determination, will assist to your survival and whatever path that may take.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Eva, in the first week of Term 4, you will be given a lesson to finalise your “Significant Connections” assessment. Key areas to strengthen:
    1) Read through the final lines of your paragraphs and ensure that the points you are making are complete and clear.
    2) Your second point on “Reasons to stay alive” is well-developed and gives context to what Matt was specifically facing in the text. However, you could give more context to your first point: events, challenges, settings etc. to fully clarify your ideas.
    3) In your comparisons, you could consider including what the viewer learns from the details that you have presented.
    4) Place the order of your points on each text in the chronological order that they occur.
    5) Read through all of your writing out loud and make sure that your expression, sentence structure and grammar is accurate.
    Well done for the work that you have completed thus far!


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