Survival: Based on the Random Passage by Bernice Morgan

Essay by SamanthaE4High School, 11th gradeA, November 2007

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'Random Passage' by Bernice Morgan is a mesmerizing tale of hardships and settling. It is about a group of people who unknowingly headed to an almost deserted part of Newfoundland, and a group of people who went there looking for change. When the people had settled on the island, they had to overcome many obstacles in order to survive and make a good life for themselves. They not only had to overcome the physical challenges such as food and shelter, they also had to overcome their 9ikpsychological issues. They faced many types of conflict on the island, with the land and with each other. The men had to provide for the women through fishing and hunting, and the women had the job of looking after the homes, children, and gardening. Many of the people there had to cope with the idea of being away from their friends and families, and the place where they grew up.

This was a new and strange land to them, and they had to learn to overcome their personal issues and get on with their new lives.

To survive on the island, they had to be strong and help each other through the tough times. They had to find food and build shelters. They melted snow in the winter when the pond was frozen, and hunted seals on the ice pans off of the Cape. They had to share everything until it was gone, and worked to get credits to buy food and supplies. They received a lucky break when a ship pulled up and gave them two barrels of flour and a keg of molasses. The ship's owner was an employer of Thomas Hutchings. They also had to take care of each other when sickness took over the island in the form of the Plague. Not only did they have to be there for each other in sickness, but also in death. An example is when Ned dies from a polar bear attack. Mary and Thomas try to save him, but to no avail. Not only did the people on this island have to overcome these physical problems, they had to face many psychological and emotional challenges as well.

Not only did they have to survive physically, but psychologically as well. Lavinia Andrews is an example as she wrote in her journal everyday about her life and all of the problems that came along with that life. When they first reached the island, she had to face the thought of never going back home, because she could not stand another five weeks on the journey home. They also had to face the fact that they were townspeople who had never faced the rigors of living off the land. Another person who faced emotional problems was Thomas Hutchings. He thinks he sees blood one day when he goes for a walk, but it turns out to be red silk. Seeing this gives him a foreshadowing of what will happen here. More problems occur when Peter and Joe seem to be at odds over the difference between the treatment the men give them. They treat Joe as an equal and Peter as a child. This results in Peter cutting off Joe's finger. This makes barriers between the brothers and others on the island. More emotional problems occur when Thomas marries Fanny. Lavinia loved Thomas, and tries to avoid him and stop thinking about him. She covers this up with the grief of Ned's death. By sticking together, putting the past behind them, and getting on with their lives, the people overcame the psychological issues that faced them every day. These were not the only problems that they had to overcome. Different forms of conflict faced them every day.

Conflict appears in many forms in this novel. There is interpersonal conflict between the people, external conflict with the outside world, and internal conflict within the people. There are many examples of interpersonal conflict throughout this novel. An example is when Peter cut off Joe's finger when the men treated him better. Another good example is when Ned is caught naked with Mary. Meg tells Mary not to come back until she is married to Ned. An example of external conflict is the lack of food they are receiving from the land and the water. Another example is when the pond where they usually went for drinking water was frozen. They overcame this obstacle by melting the snow for water. An example of internal conflict is when Lavinia kept her feelings for Thomas to herself because he was married to Fanny. Another example is when Ned dies. Mary was willing him to live and stayed by his side until he died in her arms. She then wandered for days by herself. She then tried to overcome her own problems by focusing on other people.

In this novel, the reader is introduced to the hardships and uncertainties of survival. The author uses fishing as an example to illustrate the uncertainty of having food to eat. She uses the polar bear attack to illustrate the danger of the land. She also illustrates the separate roles that men and women play to help everyone survive. This shows that nobody is spared from the hardships. By showing everything that they do to help them survive, the reader gets a good understanding of what these people had to go through and how hard it was to try and live a normal life. We are not just physical beings, and we do not live on food alone. We need love and compassion, and a sense of belonging. These people would not have survived if they did not have each other, and the open mindedness to try a new life.