The Controversy of "The Cold Equations" (By Tom Goldwin)

Essay by manogamezHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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After reading "The Cold Equations", one realizes that it will not end happily. It presented a horrifying yet realistic universe and stuck with it. The point of the whole story was to show the cruelness of nature and the universe. The story emphasized that the universe is not fair; it simply does not care.

However, the story's thesis is somewhat questionable. The girl's death does not seem to be the fault of nature, but is obviously a direct result of civilization. The jettisoning of something else like the blaster or a chair could have possibly saved the girl from death. Moreover, it seems unreasonable that a ship of that magnitude to have no margin of error even if lives are at stake. How could a civilization capable of colonizing other worlds be reckless enough to give these massive ships just enough fuel to take the ship and some cargo through a one way journey? If something were to go wrong with the ship there would not be a backup plan and the civilization would lose more than it gained.

Another problem that degraded the effectiveness of the thesis was that only a sign stating "UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL KEEP OUT" guarded against stowaways. The civilization could have easily placed guards at that door or somehow made it difficult to enter. Either the civilization was neglectful or simply did not care about the lives of individuals. Another haunting detail that made the story seem unreasonable was the coldness that the EDS pilots "needed" to maintain. It was cruel that every EDS pilot was to kill any stowaway on sight. The civilization should have and could made an emergency plan for predicaments like these.