Earth Abides Essay, Research Paper
Imagine waking up and looking around, only to realize that while you were asleep ninety percent of the world population had vanished. In the novel Earth Abides, George Stewart creates this scenario and makes it a reality. The novel is centered on the life of Ish, who wakes up only to find he is one of the few left on earth. Having to survive and adapt, Ish is faced with the responsibility of making contact with other survivors of the Great Disaster. In doing so, Ish meets several characters and together they form a tribe to fit the new lifestyle. Ish becomes the leader of the group and the main focus of the story; however, he is not the only important character. Some members of the community immerge and become important figures as well. In the novel Earth Abides, we see a tribe with only a few members, grow and develop into a community with over three hundred members. In a new world and with such hard conditions, The Tribe managed to survive successfully. This task was not easy, considering all the other people in the world who had failed. Many other survivors of the Great Disaster, killed themselves, drank their life away, and did not look for reason to live in a civilized manner. However, The Tribe overcame all of that and aimed itself in the right direction for yet another try at Mother Nature. Their success was mainly based on the fact that the members from the Old Times were able to adjust and adapt. They made use of the resources and in some way put the Great Disaster behind them. These members found their place in The Tribe and built a strong foundation for their children. Of such roles, one of the most important is that of a leader. The leader has to take charge of the group, make heavy decisions, and have knowledge and understanding of the world around him. It is the leaders’ duty to prepare his people and make sure that they are able to survive and care for themselves. In the novel, we can see this in the character of Ish. From the moment Ish realized what had happened to the he had the desire to be a leader. When he met the black family in his cross-country trip and thought to himself, “I could be a king here if I remained.” Later in the novel Ishs desires for leadership are even more noticeable when The Tribe first comes into contact with Charlie. Ish is the only one who feels hostility towards Charlie and act awkwardly around him, despite not knowing anything about him. Ish does this at first not because he senses danger and wants to protect The Tribe from Charlie. But instead, Ish felt his position threatened by Charlie, “the fact might be also that he himself was too narrowly prejudice against the man, (speaking of Charlie) out of a spirit of rivalry…Or it at worst, it would be a struggle of factions against two opposing leaders.” Ish undoubtedly wanted to be the leader of The Tribe and did not want to settle for anything less. Ish became the leader of The Tribe not only because of his desires, but he was well more qualified than the rest of the members. Ezra was “too easy going” and George “had been too stupid.” Ish on the other hand had “intellectual leadership” and was the only one who read books and had knowledge of what was happening around him. The other members from the Old Times did not go to college or have as good an education as Ish had. To Ish, most things were very simple and easy to understand. All the members in the group often came to Ish for advice and answers. During the plagues of the cows and grasshoppers, no one except Ish knew what was happening. When the water had ran out, again only Ish knew how to solve the problem. Ish did not only have answers to a lot of question, but like all great leaders, always planned and thought ahead. “Why am I the one who has to think five, ten, twenty years into the future?” No other member cared or thought about what resources they were going to run out of and use up. Ish in many ways could see ahead and tried to prepare The Tribe. He did his best in teaching them to read and write. He knew that one day The Tribe would run out of ammunition, and to prepare them he showed them how to make bows. Ish knew the importance of fire, and also taught the members how to light a fire with out matches. Through out his life, Ish had under estimated his power. For a long time Ish did not think The Tribe would survive, but yet in the end when he sees the members kill the rabbits, start the fire by hand, and come into contact with lion, he realizes he had been wrong. In fact his people had learned from him and in their own ways made use of what he had taught them. His leadership after all, made a big influence on the other members. Although The Tribe was highly dependent of Ish for leadership, “in time of trouble it was Em whom the people turned to.” Her importance to The Tribe was so valuable, that men could not make decisions with out her. In Charlie’s case, Em was the only woman there that voted or had any say in the matter. In her own way Em was a leader. She brought to The Tribe courage and motivation. Off all the elements of survival her contributions were the most important. Unlike many survivors of the great disaster who gave up on life, Em was probably one of the few who found reasons to continue living. With out her motivation, The Tribe never would have probably existed. ” With out her they might have all been nothing.” In the beginning before The Tribe was formed, it was Em’s idea to have children even though Ish was afraid to have them. There were no doctors and Ish surely did not have experience in delivering babies, but to Em this was not a reason. She wanted to keep on living life as though the disaster never happened. “She was life…She was the light of the future. Her stronger spirit had struck back against death, and already life built up anew within her.” Em’s motivation and courage was so strong that it affected everybody around her. Even Ish, who was the leader of The Tribe, was dependent of her. “Em was greater than he… From her depths courage flowed out to him.” While The Tribe was going through Charlies epidemic and Ish was sick, it was Em who took over The Tribe and gave everyone courage to stay alive.” I felt the courage flow out of me-like blood! It flowed out to them all.” Even while she lay in bed sick, old, and dying she was still not afraid. “For she, he knew, had always reached out toward life, and her courage would not fail.” Em’s motivation alone kept The Tribe moving forward and progressing into the New World. She gave The Tribe and showed them the importance of inner strength.Ezra was the communicator and the people persons in the tribe. Ezra’s abilities were noticeable from the first time Ish and Em met him. Ezra, “had the inexpressibly great gift of making people feel comfortable…Ezra had genius perhaps, but it was the genius of living on easy and friendly terms with people.” It was Ezra who had the idea of bringing George to the Tribe. It was Ezra who made Charlie feel at home despite what he had felt about him. In a world where everyone is a stranger, Ezra was very important. Ezra was an interpreter and a link between the old and new generation members. Both groups often thought differently because of the different times they grew up in, and Ezra understood both cultures. Ish did not often understand what others were thinking, even the children who were his own. Ezra on the other hand could relate to everybody andcommunicate with The Tribe. The survival of The Tribe was dependent on each of the older generation members in some way. Ish had to lead, Ezra had to communicate and Em gave them all courage. There was also George; the repairman who fixed everything for everybody and made sure peoples homes did not fall apart. Molly, Jean, and Maurine, were all simple folks, but brought to The Tribe ideas. Just like in buildings, the foundation of a community or society is the most important part. All the other layers on top depend on the layer below them. The Tribe could not survive with out having a strong foundation to hold on to and build on top of. The older generation members set this foundation using themselves as examples. In the end, everything the Old generation members taught their children had paid off. The new generation were prepared for the future and were well aware of the world around them, they were survivors.
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