In conclusion, I really enjoyed The Martian and would recommend it toanyone who has a great interest in thrillers, suspense and science.
I was toldto 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, andadventure, I knew this novel was meant for me. I really appreciated the styleof writing that Weir used, especially his use of continuous humour, which in myopinion, made the novel ten times better. The idea of an individual beingstranded in the deserted planet of Mars with just his wits of botany andengineering was fantastic. Throughout the novels progression, I felt like I wason a rollercoaster ride full of suspense as to whether or not Watney wouldsurvive.
In addition, Weir does a tremendous job in explaining the story’sscientific aspect with an enormous amount of detail. Thus, I believe the storyis reader-friendly. Another strength that this novel portrays is its choice of narrator.
Mark Watney was an all-around fantastic narrator. Through his unbelievableintelligence and determination to survive, I was able to grow a realisticrelationship with him. However, with this said, the only thing I wished Weirwould have done was provide a more detailed background proclaiming his familylife. With this said, I would have appreciated seeing the story through theperspective of his parents. However, I really liked how Weir introduced us toNASA and the other members of his crew. As a result, it made the story muchmore interesting by changing the setting and tone. Moreover, the storyeffectively 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 anovel that took place outside of Earth.
More importantly, Weir did a tremendousjob in providing as much detail as possible when explaining the setting of Marsand its many issues accompanied with it. The character that I enjoy the mostwas Mark Watney. This is mainly because the story is about him and his adventureof surviving Mars. In addition his courage and ambition was very inspirational.
Although he may have felt hopeless at times, he never gave up and stayedpositive. With this said, this novel can relate to world issues today as itreminds us about the importance of never giving up and always give our onehundred percent. Likewise, I see Watneyas a hero and inspirational character. After reading this novel, I believe thatbeing courageous and determined is the only solution when times are stressful.We must accept reality, stay positive, and believe that everything will beokay. Throughout the novel, Any Weir utilizesimagery and symbolism to portray hidden messages that cannot be seen from itsliteral meaning.
Additionally, its effectiveness creates interest and suspense tothe story. Symbolic imagery in TheMartian include the Hab, potatoes, RTG, and Pathfinder. The Hab isessentially Watney’s home in Mars.
It is where he can reflect and rejuvenateafter long days of work. Thanks to the Hab, Watney can feel like he’s back onEarth and dismiss the feeling of isolation as he is able to “kick back andwatch twentieth-century TV” (Weir 57) such as Three’s company and The Dukesof Hazzard. As a result of its homelike feeling, and Watneys greatrelationship with it, Watney feels anxious when leaving “sight of the Hab” (Weir89). In addition to the Hab being Watney’s home, it was also turned into “62meters 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 andcontinuous feeling of isolation. More importantly, the Hab allowed Watney tolive on Mars for two and a half years before his rescue. The “twelve wholepotatoes” (Weir 27) that NASA left the Ares 3 crew for Thanksgiving was verysignificant because it prevented Watney from starvation as he was able to usethem to grow sixty-two metres worth of potatoes.
Additionally, the potatoessymbolize the quality of life and importance of giving. Thanksgivingcommemorates the hospitality Americans had when they prevented the pilgrimsfrom starvation as they entered the new and free land of America. Likewise, thespecial day of Thanksgiving also saved Watney from starvation when he enteredthe unfamiliar land of Mars.
The RTG, short form for radioisotope thermalgenerator, was effectively used by Watney to keep him warm during the longjourney to Pathfinder and Schiaparelli. Due to the extreme cold conditions inMars, Watney would have died from hypothermia in his rover during his longtrips. But, thanks the RTG, which basically acted as a heater, Watney was ableto acquire Pathfinder and reach Schiaparelli where he was rescued. However,because the RTG contains “Plutonium-238” (Weir 87) it is very radioactive andpoisonous. As a result, although the RTG was needed to keep him warm, it couldhave also killed him. This is significant because it symbolizes the many risksWatney had to take in order to survive the nature of Mars. The final symbolicobject is Pathfinder. Pathfinder was very significant in the survival of Watneybecause it granted him communication with NASA.
Before he acquired Pathfinder,Watney was feeling hopeless and was worried he will die on Mars before seeingor hearing another human being. However, after hearing a simple “yes” (Weir139), from NASA, Watney was full of joy and excitement and states how after “spendingthree months as the loneliest man in history, it’s finally over” (Weir 136).Therefore, Pathfinder symbolizes the hope Watney inherits after hearing fromanother human being. Likewise from that day forward, Watney felt morecourageous, confident and his hope of being rescued vividly increased. The use ofliterary devices is essential in creating a good novel as it creates a uniquestyle of writing. Moreover, using such a diverse literature keeps the readerinterested and the novel memorable. In TheMartian, Andy Weir does a fantastic job in utilizing a large amount ofprofound literary devices.
The main and continuous literary device that Weiruses is profanity. Profanity is very critical in showcasing the true reality offrustration of Watney and many other characters. More importantly, it creates avery realistic literature in which the reader can relate to due to the factthat showing our emotions is part of our nature. For example, in the openingsentence of the novel, Watney expresses his current state by stating, “I’mpretty much fucked” (Weir 1).
This opening sentence is very significant becauseit immediately grabs the reader’s attention by creating suspense. Another goodexample of Weir using profanity to express ones emotion is when a member ofNASA says “FUCK! You have got to be fucking kidding me!” (Weir 67) afterrealizing Watney’s alive and stranded on Mars. In this situation, the use ofprofanity is to be expected as it represents the overwhelming situation and theunbelievable feeling that NASA must be going through. The next literary devicethat Weir tends to use is Allusion.
Throughout Watney’s time on Mars, the onlytype of activity he does, expect solving problems, is watching old episodesform the 1960 television show, Three’sCompany. As a result, he makes a reference to Mr. Furley saying, “I likeMr. Furley more than Ropers” (Weir 37).
Another example of Weir using allusionis when he alludes to aqua man by saying “How come Aquaman can control whales?They’re mammals!” (Weir 76). The use ofcomedy is another major literature device found in The Martian. It is revealed through the Watney and is used to addcomical relief. It is appreciated due to the fact it makes the story moreenjoyable. Some examples of comedy include “It’s true you know. In space, noone 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 thoroughanalysis, the reader is able to acknowledge and appreciate the recurring themesof survival, isolation, fear, and hopelessness. These themes are all revealedthrough main character, Mark Watney, divulging his true identity.
Moreover, theyare most prevalent in establishing the plots progression. Following the stormthat lead Mark Watney stranded on Mars, the only solution he had was survive. Usinghis astonishing skills of botany and engineering, Watney was able to defeat thenatural state of Mars, and more importantly, defeat death. Although producinghis own food was real progress, he would still be in danger of starvation, butstill grants him the “range of survival” (Weary 25). However, using hisinstincts, Watney would finally overcome starvation by “reducing calorie intakeby minimizing manual labour…set the temperature of the Hab higher than normal, meaningmy body would expand less energy” (Weir 25-26).
This is significant because itportrays how several issues are accompanied with Mars, and how Watney is ableto overcome them with his ultimate abilities of solving problems, taking risks,and determination. After producing his own source of food and water, Watneygained a ton of confidence which ultimately increased his chances of survival. Forexample he never showed any worriedness when he had to travel “800 kilometres”(Weir 111) in order to acquire Pathfinder, which granted him communication withNASA. Isolation is a comprehensible theme in The Martian as Mark Watney is literally “left him behind in abarren, unreachable, godforsaken wasteland” (Weir 170). As Watney wrote hisdaily log, he was uncertain if anyone would even read it and states, “I guesssomeone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now” (Weir 1).
Thisexpresses the unfortunate realization that Watney is all alone in a differentplanet and the high probability that he might be obliterated, thus vulnerableto death. Every time Watney leaves the Hab and steps foot on the rocky surfaceof Mars, he is remembered about his unfortunate state and how he would “giveanything for a five-minute conversation with anyone” (Weir 117). However, afterhe was able to get Pathfinder to function and communicate with NASA, Watney wasso excited and praises how after “spending three months as the loneliest man inhistory, it’s finally over” (Weir 136). Hearing from another human being wasvery pleasing as it gave Watney a sigh of relief and hope that he will berescued. Mark Watney expressing the theme of fear was expected due to the factof being an outsider in a completely different planet.
With this said, Watneyhad to face the fear of whether or not he would live another day as he had nocontrol of preventing a natural disaster from occurring such as another duststorm or mechanical or system failure. Likewise, he became very obsessive tothe 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 isnervous and states “Dying would suck, but my crewmates dying, would be wayworse” (Weir 284). This quote is significant because it expresses the fearWatney has when risking the lives of the rest of the crew. Although he mightnot what to die, he does not what to be responsible for the deaths of fiveother people, showcasing his generosity and unselfishness.
Moreover, the factthat Weir is all alone in the deserted planet of Mars, frightens him as hebelieves he will die before seeing another human being. The theme ofhopelessness is depicted through Mark Watney as he realizes his time on Mars isonly getting worse. Every time he completes a task, something goes wrong,creating another problem.
For example, after the Hab exploded, Watney losescontrol and hope by stating “You know what!? Fuck this! Fuck this airlock, fuckthat Hab, and fuck this whole planet! Seriously, this is it! I’ve had it! I’vegot a few minutes before I run out of air and I’ll damned…All I have to do issit here and I’ll die” (Weir 185). This shows how Watney is giving up andaccepting reality that his time has come. He sees no purpose in trying tosurvive 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 andcommunication, he also has to fight the natural world of Mars. Characterisation is a vital component in the production of a good novel asit enables the reader to thoroughly capture and relate to the many charactersand events. In The Martian, Weir doesa tremendous job in creating a profound relationship with main character andprotagonist, Mark Watney.
Although Watney may seem like a dull and flat characterthrough his description of botanist and engineer astronaut, his courage andambition makes him a truly remarkable character. Being described as “the verylowest ranked member of the crew” (Weir 2), is ironic and does not serve himjustice because no one would have ever thought he would be able to survive onMars 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 ofbotany, 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 alsoproduced his own water through the reaction of burning hydrazine. Producing foodand water on a different planet is an accomplishment on its own, making him thefirst 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 onMars, Watney had many other complications such as the explosion of the Hab dueto the excessive “transformation of oxygen” (Weir 56), destroying a numerousamount of his potatoes. Although Watney had to inherit many problems, he nevergave up and stayed positive, signifying his great strength of perseverance. Otherthan his great strength of intelligence, the reader is also introduced to thehumorous side of Watney. According to Dr. Irene shields, psychologist for theAres mission, Watney would “crack more jokes and get everyone laughing” (Weir106) when his crew showed signs of “stress and moodiness” (Weir 106). This issignificant because it portrays the true appearance of Watney in which he uses humouras his fundamental solution for coping with stress. With this said throughout eachlog, Watney had at least one phrase that made me laugh. For example, just afterdiscovering his ability to grow potatoes on Mars he says “Hell yeah I’m abotanist! Fear my botany powers!” (Weir 18) and says how “Duct tape is magicand should be worshipped” (Weir 259).
Additionally, Watney is an understandingand compassionate individual. This is shown when he remains calm and refuses toblame his crew, even though they abandoned him in the deserted planet of Marsand 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, MajorRick Martinez, Dr. Chris Beck, Alex Vogel, and Beth Johannsen.
Due to the factthat NASA did not what to tell the other crew members that Watney was aliveuntil they had a plan to save him, they were introduced utterly towards the endof the novel. Commander Lewis, the firstwoman to lead an Ares crew to Mars is very vigilant as her duty is to protecteach crew member. In addition to being their commander, she was also the geologist.After the unfortunate incident, leaving Watney stranded on Mars, she had aguilty conscience and states “I left him behind. In a barren, unreachable,godforsaken wasteland” (Weir 170).
Therefore, to redeem herself and overcomeher immense shame, she, with the help of her crew, agree to return back to Marsand save Watney. Moreover, Commander Lewis is very significant because underher 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 trainedpilot” (Weir 388). He’s the one responsible for getting Watney and the crewback to Earth in one piece.
In addition, back on Earth Martinez is married toMarissa and together raise their young boy, David. Martinez being a devoted Catholicwas very significant because later in the novel, Watney “chipped his religiousitem into long splinters”, (Weir 41) using it to burn hydrazine, thus producingwater. Dr.
Chris Beck is the crew’s doctor and specializes in EVA’s, walkingoutside of space. With this said, he is the one responsible for grabbing Watneyfrom 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 Johannsenwhen Watney influences him to tell Johannsen about his feelings toward her orhe will “regret it forever” (Watney 241). After following Watney’s advice, heconfronts 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” (Weir231).She is responsible in maintaining the airlocks computer and softwaresystems. 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 TeddySanders, Venkat Kapoor, Bruce Ng, Mitch Henderson, and Mindy Park. Alsoinvolved in the mission of bringing Watney back to Earth is the China NationalSpace Administration, led by Guo Ming and Zhu Tao. Both members form NASA andChina National Space Administration are very significant as they worked allnight long in order to construct a safe plan in which granted the safety ofWatney’s arrival back on Earth.
Foremost, thenovels plot progresses around astronaut and botanist, Mark Watney, as he triesto survive the deserted planet of Mars, with nothing but his intelligence andalready 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 analysingthe geological landscape of Mars and returning samples back to earth. However, whenencountered with a dust storm with exceptionally high winds of “up to 150 kph” (Weir4), the crew is ordered to leave their initial landing site of Acidalia Planiria and return back to Earth. Easiersaid 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 habitationmodule, is essentially what astronaut’s call home because it is the one placewhere they can live comfortably without having to wear a space suit. On theother hand, the MAV, short form for Mars Ascent Vehicle, is a spacecraft inwhich astronauts use to leave the surface of Mars. With this said, all membersof Ares 3 reached the MAV, expect Watney, after “one of those long thin antennaefrom the Hab” (Weir 5), slammed into him, tearing his suit and cutting the sideof his stomach open. In addition to the injury, the antennae had also swept himinto the deserted planet of Mars, leaving him “almost totally buried in thesand” (Weir 5).
Due to the low visibility caused by the sand storm, the crewrationally concludes that Watney is dead, leaving him all alone in theuninhabited planet of Mars. When conscious again, Watney realizes he is nolonger with his crew but left stranded on Mars and “right that moment I knew Iwas screwed” (Weir 7). This quote is significant because it is later revealedthat Weir is in fact not ‘screwed’ as he is able to survive, reunite with hiscrew, and step foot on planet Earth once more, all thanks to his astonishingskills of botany and engineering. Luckily for Watney, the Hab was still intactand in good condition after the storm. Thus, Watney uses the Hab as a permanenthouse in Mars where he rejuvenates after a long day of many tasks. Right whenhe enters the Hab Watney removes his space suit, finds medical supplies andstitches up his wound.
The first utmost problem holding Watney back fromsurviving was the significant low amount of food and water. He only had sixty-fivedays’ 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 ideathat would change history forever. He gathered an enormous amount of Martiansoil, which is found on the surface of Mars, mixed it with his own feces, andthen sprinkled some Earth soil he had on top. To complete the process, he wouldpour a bucket of water, obtained from the water reclaimer, into the complexmixture of soil. The entire 3 was completed inside the Hab, turning it into a littlefarm. Through this process, Watney was able to successfully grow and harvesthis own potatoes, increasing his chances of survival and “technically colonisedMars” (Weir 172). Although the Hab contained a well-working water reclaimer, itwasn’t sufficient to keep him from dehydrating also continuing the harvest ofpotatoes.
As a result, Watney had to increase the production of water byburning hydrazine. Through the burning of hydrazine, he projects to make asensational amount of “600 litres of water” (Weir 35). Combing the greaterproduction of both food and water at a faster rate, Watney was able to last onMars until sol 549. The next task that Watney had to complete was thedevelopment of communication.
In order to survive, Watney had to develop somesort of communication with Earth. In doing so, he had to retain an objectcalled Pathfinder. However, Pathfinder was about “800 kilometers away from him”(Weir 111), creating yet again, a problem.
Although each crew is given avehicle, called a rover, it is not capable of driving long distances,especially under the very cold temperature of Mars. As a result, Watneymodifies it by adding solar cells and an extra battery which was obtained fromanother rover. The modifications was a success as he was able to acquirepathfinder and bring it back to the Hab where he set it up and begancommunicating with NASA.
After many other problems were realized and fixed byboth Watney and NASA, they finally concluded with a plan that will ensure hisabsence from Mars and his arrival back on Earth. The plan involved Watney to driveto the projected area of “Schiaparelli” (Weir 254) where he will ascent backinto earth using Ares 4 MAV. With this said unlike Pathfinder, which was a muchshorter trip, driving to Schiaparelli from the Hab is about a “3200-kilometeroverland drive” (Weir 254). With this said, Watney will need to yet again buildmodifications to its rover by adding an oxygenator, which essentially breaks upCarbon Dioxide, acting as life support. He then had to expand the size of therover in order to bring plenty of food and water, removing unnecessary partsform the rover and attaching a trailer that he made to the back of it. When allthese modifications where complete, he finally reached the MAV, where he had todo a set of other modifications. In order to reach Hermes, where his crew willbe to save him, the MAV had to be as light as possible. Thus, instructed byNASA, he had to remove the entire control panel and walls, which drasticallyreduced the size.
The walls were then replaced with Hab canvas. When Watney wasclose enough to Hermes, one of his crewmate, Vogel, pulled him “into theairlock by the tether” (Weir 433) and was reunited with his crew. According toWatney, that was the “happiest day of my life” (Weir 435) as he accomplishedthe impossible and will be able to share his story back on Earth. Overall, thestory is written and told from the perspective of Watney through the many dailylogs he made. Likewise, through the continuous cycle of finding problems andthen solving them, the story can feel a little repetitive.
Throughout thestory, Weir consecutively changed its narrator form Watney to NASA, back onEarth, which kept the reader engaged, adding suspense to the plot.