The Human Spirit

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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The Human Spirit Throughout many novels the theme of the determination to win, overcoming obstacles and the inner strength come very apparent through strong characters. In the novel Pre, Once and Runner and the movie Remember the Titans, they all have the same thing in common, there is one character who stands about the rest to overcome barriers and bring them closer to their dreams. In other words this is their human spirit. The human spirit is something inside of everyone that causes people to do things they would normally consider doing. The human spirit allows people to dig deep within them to survive through tough situations and do things they wouldn't ordinarily consider. In the novel Pre, which is about an American distance runner who overcomes many obstacles to be the best he can be. Steve Prefontaine, who some believe to be the best distance runner of all time, overcomes many obstacles to become the best such as never being in the spot light and following in others footsteps and being a wild teenager who decides to grow up and overcome that barrier to become the legend he is today.

In the novel, Once a Runner about a collegiate runner named Quintin Cassidy focused on beating the challenging four-minute mile. Through trials of miles, Cassidy learns what it takes to be a true runner and breaks all mental barriers he hits along the way. Another great example of the human spirit and ones determination to win is evident in the movie Remember the Titans. This movie is about a high school football team which are the defending state champions but one thing keeps them from returning the championship to their school, a bus load of black kids which had to transfer to this school. At first the team didn't want to play with the black kids or have anything to do with them but they overcame a tough obstacle and fought together as a team to be the best they could.

To achieve goals, in one's life, one must be determined and must have certain characteristics that reciprocate to one's goals. Throughout all of the three resources there were many evident examples of the theme the determination to win. It is evident in the novel Pre, when Prefontaine, the main character, overcomes all barriers through his determination to win and makes the Olympic finals and eventually become the legendary runner who we all know him to be now. A quotation from the novel that shows Prefontaine's strong determination to win is, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."(p79) This is one of Pre's most renowned quote's and what he has lived by ever since he was a young boy. Pre states that for someone to give anything less than there 110% then he or she are sacrificing what they have and the talent to be the best. The theme of the determination to win also becomes very evident in the novel Once a Runner. Cassidy's determination is what allowed him to reach his goal to break the challenging four-minute mile barrier, something all distance runners have in their dreams. In the movie Remember the Titans, the football team has the determination to win and because of this it forces them to come together and play as a unit not as individuals. The human spirit is an unusual instinct that some do not understand. It allows people to push past their limits, overcome obstacles and live up to the role of the challenge even if they do not believe it could be possible.

It is apparent that when someone steps up to a challenge the human spirit acts in a different manner allowing them to overcome obstacles which wouldn't normally be considered. In the film Remember the Titans, the players had to overcome many different obstacles such as race, location of their homes and religion. The movie took place around the 1960-70's when blacks and whites still didn't associate together much. When the black football players started playing on the team there was a lot of hostility between the different races but they managed to overcome this obstacle and help each other as a team to come together and win. In the novel Once a Runner, the biggest theme is overcoming obstacles and doing things you have set your sights on and accomplishing your goals. Cassidy, a collegiate runner overcomes his obstacle, which is to break the four-minute mile barrier. Cassidy, a slightly above average runner in high school becomes a great runner in College by setting goals and obstacles for himself. By doing this he does overcome his obstacle. The book Pre, based on the life of Steve Prefontaine, is all about overcoming obstacles. He starts out by overcoming his high school obstacle that is to get into the University of Oregon, the founder of distance running. He does this by setting goals. By college, Pre is the best and most famous distance runner to ever live in the United States; people would come from all over just to watch his unique form and style. A quotation from Pre that shows his unique style is, "Some people create with words or music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, "˜I've never seen anyone run like that before.' It's more that just a race; it's a style. It's doing something better than anyone else is. It's being creative."(p107) When Pre runs he makes a style out of it and that's why he is so famous. What Prefontaine is to a distance runner is like what Micheal Jordan is to a basketball player. He is unique in his own nature and his style is like no other. Pre's determination to overcome obstacles is what made him the legend he is today. In all three sources, the drive and determination is what allowed them to overcome their obstacles and reach their goals.

In the novel Pre, Once and Runner and in the film Remember the Titans, they all show clearly how the human spirit and the determination to win can allow you to do things you wouldn't ordinarily consider doing. All these examples show us how the human spirit is a magnificent thing that can make someone the best they can be. In the novel Once a Runner, John L. Jr. Parker gets to the heart of the most serious runner. Parker recognizes and accentuates the highs of victory and the pitfalls of training. He brings to life the desire of a champion and the sacrifice needed to get to that level. An example of the determination to win from the novel Pre is "A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, which can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000-meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I lose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself."-Steve Prefontaine- (p142) This quotation shows the human spirit of Prefontaine expressed through his words. If he can do this then anyone can. Winning or losing a race is all a mental thing and once your body has managed to overcome the fear then anything is possible. To win a race you need guts and the winner is whoever wants it the most, not always who's the best. This is when the human spirit can do things you never thought possible; it can allow you to have that finishing kick when you thought you were dead. The human spirit is a magnificent thing and once you have learned to listen to that spirit then anything is possible. It is like when someone is running at the Olympics or representing their country, that spirit can allow them to reach above themselves and do something they never thought possible.