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Z for Zachariah Essay

Survival, basically refined is stated as the fact or state of continuing to live or exist, especially in difficult situations. “Never, never give in, in anything great or small, never give in” is a famous quote by Sir Winston Churchill that helps explain the real aspects of what it takes to survive.

The following text will explain and explore ‘survival’ from various techniques and effects as well as compare and contrast the similarities and differences between ‘Z for Zachariah’, our class novel of a teenage girl living in a post-apocalyptic world and ‘Touching the Void’, a thrilling story of two adventurous climbers who’s journey takes a turn for the worse. ‘Z for Zachariah’ is based in a post –apocalyptic time period within the American Midwest. It is set out in a diary entry written by the protagonist, in this case a 16 year old girl named Ann Burden.

It focuses on what she does just to stay alive during the daily events she encounters. Through the use of this 1st person perspective, you are able to believe that you are right there in the heart of the novel. Most importantly, it enables you to experience the life of Ann and what it is like to live in a time of struggle and despair. Other techniques such as flashbacks (a jump backwards in time to fill in details from the past) and symbolism (the use of an object or idea to represent something else by association) help re-instate the initial format of ‘survival’ portrayed in the novel. Touching the Void’ is a documentary based on the true story of two mountaineers climbing in the Peruvian Andes where one of the climbers falls and sustains a serious leg injury, making him unable to carry on. This leaves them with a serious conundrum of what to do to get out alive. Throughout the documentary a variety of techniques are portrayed to get the audience engaged. It is constantly reverting to the interviews of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates to concede a much better engaging atmosphere for the audience.

Also, through the use of re-enactment it provides the feeling of you actually being there and witnessing the events that happen throughout the film. ‘Survival’ is clearly shown in its true form in this documentary. Both of these particular texts have differences and similarities between them. Whereas ‘Z for Zachariah’ is written with many themes in mind such as ‘good and evil’, ‘hope and despair’ and ‘life and death’ ‘Touching the Void’ is filmed with only one, this is ‘survival instinct ‘.

This simply stated is what happens when you are put in a high pressure situation with no apparent way of etting out. Also, where the novel is a fiction story, the documentary happened in the ever present world in which we live, making it a more realistic and easier to understand the viewpoint. Although there are not many similarities shared between the two texts, there is one key feature they both possess and that is the aspect of ‘Lone Survival’. This is what makes these stories of survival what they are and why they are truly great. The ability to think when you are all by yourself is quite difficult, especially when the thought of death is in mind.

However, in both of these texts the protagonists are able to regain their focus and carry on strong to finish alive at the end of the journey. Both ‘Z for Zachariah’ and ‘Touching the Void’ have uniquely different ideas of how survival can vary in different ways, as well as change the people involved in the event for the rest of their lives. These are great examples of survival at their best, and In the end Life is the struggle for survival, in which the strongest wins, and as Winston Churchill once said “Never, never give in, in anything great or small, never give in”.


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