Alive Book Report Essay Research Paper The

Alive Book Report Essay, Research Paper

The book ALIVE, by Piers Paul Read identified many possible themes, although I

do think there are two that stand out. These two themes are survival and cooperation.

Survival plays a major throughout the entire story. The most gruesome part in the story

occurred when the remaining 28 passengers of the Fairchild were forced to cut up and eat

there deceased friends and family members so that they would be able to survive. This

drastic action was long disputed. This group of people went on for two weeks eating

nothing but small portions of chocolate before they thought about their alternative food

source. Secondly, throughout the ten weeks the survivors were in the Andes Mountains,

which in the end was only 16 people, cooperation was a necessity. The one instance that

stands out was on the last expedition when Roberto Canessa and Nando Parrado set off

for civilization. For ten days the two boys walked the endless chain of snow covered

mountains until they finally found a Chilean peasant. During these crucial days it was

only their minds of steel and endless cooperation that got them through. Parrado and

Canessa were the one’s who saved their friends in the Andes.

The setting in ALIVE gave you a real sense of how terrible it was for the Andes

survivors. First of all, the Andes setting was basically what kept the survivors from being

found by an airplane. The snow covered mountains blended to the roof of the Fairchild

to a point where the plane was literally invisible from more than 50 ft. away. Secondly,

the intense cold, which at night dropped to around 40 below zero, weakened many of the

passengers. Since there was no proper protection against such extreme temperatures,

many of the passengers who were already injured from the plane crash developed

frostbitten limbs which eventually turned gangrenous. The passengers of the Fairchild

were stuck in a very horrible situation.

I can interpret and critique the end of this book, but first comes some background

information. At first the last expedition was supposed to consist of three people which

were Roberto Canessa, Nando Parrado, and Antonio Vizintin. All three boys were

stocked with a 10 days ration of flesh. Unfortunately, on the third day of the expedition

Canessa and Parrado realized that the crusade for civilization was going to longer than

expected. So due to there position they were forced to send Vizintin back to the plane

and take his ration of food. The two boys walked the Andes for seven more days until

they finally found a pasture of cows. With a little more walking they found a Chilean

peasant who contacted the proper authorities. One day later the remaining 14 passengers

still in the Fairchild were rescued. The Fairchild had crashed on October 13, 1972 and

the remaining passengers were rescued on December 20th of that same year. The end of

this book was described in such an excellent manner that it seems as if you were right

there with the survivors doing, seeing, and unfortunately eating what they were. I also

believe that God played a part in the survival of these men. I don’t know how it would

be possible for 16 men, barely clothed could survive arctic temperatures for ten weeks

without the help of some supernatural force. This may sound crazy to some, but to others

it sounds absolutely valid.

Many of the men on the plane, especially Roberto Canessa felt the irony of being

out in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat but a small piece of chocolate and sip of

liqueur. Roberto’s irony came from his life back home. He thought of all of the times he

threw out a bowl of soup because it didn’t taste right or it was too cold. Then he thought

of how he was now forced to eat human flesh, certain organs, and even brains so that he

didn’t starve to death. Just think of what he would do for that soup now. Many others

also felt a spot of irony from their past during the final weeks on the mountain. They

believed that because of the things they did wrong when they were in civilization, God

was now punishing them by keeping them alive in a place that they thought of as hell. It

is truly amazing how one comes to terms will himself when faced with death.

While in the Andes Mountains almost every passenger experienced internal and

external conflicts. Javier Methol was a man who probably had the most severe internal

conflict with eating the human flesh. He was constantly asking himself if he should or

should not eat the meat. Methol starved himself for days, but when his wife finally died

he knew that he had to survive so he could look after their children. Reluctantly he ate

his ration of flesh day after day, and in the end he was one of the survivors. Since the

inside of the Fairchild was mighty squished during sleeping hours, fights would often

break out between passengers. One night Moncho Sebella laid his feet down right in

front of Roberto Canessa’s face. When asked politely to move them, Sabella refused. At

this Canessa pushed Sebella’s feet away. Then Sebella kicked Canessa in the head.

Canessa blew up, grabbed Sabella’s foot and was ready to break it in two if Javier Methol

had not broken the fight up. For the rest of the time on the mountain Canessa and

Sabella managed to stay away from each other. Overall I really enjoyed this book and I

am glad I read it. Although it had its sad parts, there was nothing better than to see the

Andes survivors go home to their families for Christmas.


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