Analyse how settings are used to help you understand characters in the written text(s).
The non-fiction novel, Alive, written by Paul Piers Read uses setting to help the reader to understand the characters and how they developed through the text. The main setting is where the Fairchild crashed. This was into an abandoned area of the Andes between Chile and Argentina. Every aspect of the setting these individuals were placed in proposed a life treating risk. The most obvious problems that are faced are the extreme cold, lack of food and how they are going to get out. The way in which the individuals deal with these conditions and obstacles is how the reader is able to understand each character.
The most immediate threat to the survivors of the crash was the extreme cold. This setting was near impossible to survive in with the researches available to them at the crash site. They had only what had landed around them in the crash there natural surroundings was just snow. The was in which they handled the cold helped the reader to better understand the characters. The extremely low temperatures in the Andes made “…their limbs numb with cold…”. The cold temperatures showed the reader the best and the worst in the each individual as the cold surrounded them day in day out. We were able to see how strong willed and determined individuals were. Canessa’s idea to remove the seat coverings and use them as a form of blanket, showed us that Canessa hadn’t given up an was set on finding ways to survive. Other ideas that helped the group to overcome the cold temperatures as much as possible included barricading the opening in the back of the plane which played a large part in saving the characters from death and showing the reader that despite there situation these individuals were not going to give up. Not all individuals showed a positive and helpful side to themselves when put in this position. Whether is was because of injury or self-pity Senora Mariana showed how weak he really was, there was no determination to survived and gave up on life, doing nothing to help themselves.
The next problem they faced due to the setting was the lack of food. Food is one of the most important aspects of survival. The surroundings at the crash site didn’t offer any fresh vegetation or animals as they were completely surrounded by snow. The way in which the characters dealt with this helped the reader to better understand the characters. The survivors had nearly enough food for the time being, as there time on the mountain got longer the daily rations of “…a deodorant cap filled with wine…a taste of jam…. and a square of chocolate…” were no where near the amount of energy need to survive the cold alone. While this rationing was showing survival skills and logic it wasn’t going to keep people alive. Parrado showed his determination to survive when he was brave enough to suggest eating human flesh. He was backed up by Canessa when he justified to the group that “It is meat…The souls have left their bodies and are in heaven with God”. Canessa was the natural leader of the group, while the others still considered the idea foul he “cut away twenty slivers the size of matchsticks” and placed the meat out to dry on the top of the Fairchild before finally mustering up the courage to swallow his firs piece of human flesh. This act over came there immediate issue of lack of food. The courage shown by Canessa when he ate the first piece helped the reader to understand that he was doing everything and anything need to survive.
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In conclusion the setting of the novel, Alive by Piers Paul Read, helped to show the reader what each character is like. The obstacles they faced brought out good qualities such as leadership, ability to change and determination. It also brought out bad qualities such as the ability to give up so easily and impatience. The harsh setting of the Andes is something I haven’t experienced which made it ear impossible to understand the pain the conditions would have made each individual feel. However the way the writer clearly described each aspect in such detail made it easier to sympathies with the characters on an emotional level.