Tuesday, November 27, 2012

part V

Part V of Endurance documents the men's stay on Elephant Island until the time when Shackleton takes a crew of five men with him on the Caird to find help. This part of the story is full of ups and downs, relief and distress. When the men reach Elephant Island, they are so relieved to be on steady ground. This is most evident in the description of their appreciation of the place. Nature began to take new meaning for them. "It was a joy, for example, to watch the birds simply as birds and not for the significance they might have--whether they were a sign of good or evil, an opening of the pack or a gathering storm" (page 181). This statement was very significant to me because it shows just how dire their situation had been. I hadn't realized the constant stress the men must have been under emotionally until I read about the changes they felt when they reached land. However, this was short lived, as their landing point was deemed unlivable. The men for forced to take to the boats again to find a more suitable campsite. Once there, a new wave of relief, followed by another realization of what was to come. Some of the men would have to leave in order to find help. To be in a situation such as this seems to be the most challenging psychologically thus far. To feel extreme relief followed by another disappointment must have been so difficult. It's a wonder to me that some of these men did not lose their heads. I have such great respect for their struggles.


  1. I agree with your comment about the psychological challenge of having hope and excitement and then being let down or discouraged. It must have been very tough for the men. It's interesting to wonder if it was worse staying behind and having to wonder when the others would go back or being the ones to go and having the weight of others counting on you largely for their survival.

  2. I also agree with that comment. It was so relieving for the seamen to hit land, but then being hit with another disappointment was not easy. In either scenario, it's tough by letting a group down by not returning, or waiting helplessly for a return that you don't know will happen.