Organisms differ in their anatomical structures, environments, habits and qualities. But a commonality that all living organisms share is the desire to survive. Survival is necessary for the continuation of any species and obviously, necessary for life. “Survival of the fittest” is a theory that was introduced by Charles Darwin, but many American novels have proven that being the “fittest” is not the only component to survival. In novels, such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, one very important factor involved with survival is the bonds between people. William Glasser, an American psychiatrist that developed reality therapy and choice theory, stated that, “We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.” But the two novels create a bridge between survival and “love and belonging”, expressing the extent to which family and friendship inspire one’s urge to survive as well as the actions and emotions that ensue as one struggles to live.
The Road focuses on the bond between a father and his son. Throughout the novel the father states that taking care of his son “is my job”. Examples of this are after the father and son encounter the “bad guys” for the first time and as the father washes “a dead man’s brains out of his [the son’s] hair” (McCarthy 63). The father is surviving primarily for the sake of his son. He puts himself second and entirely devotes himself to the safety and well-being of his son. Had the father not had a child to take care of, he would have had little to no incentive to continue living. And as for the son, without having his father there to guide and protect him, the son would have most likely died before he was able to find other “good guys”. The Illustrated Man takes an opposite approach on the relation of family/friend bonds and survival. Rather than writing about how strong bonds encourage survival, Bradbury writes about how the lack of family and friendship leads to death.
In the chapter titled “The Veldt”, a family becomes exclusively reliant on technology, particularly the two young children. The family becomes so reliant on the advanced technology in their home to the point that the parents and children begin to drift apart. Technology replaces the jobs and chores the parents would usually do, and eventually replaces them in the minds of the children as well. The children no longer consider their parents to have any meaning or relevance. The parents try to reconstruct the detached family by removing the technology that they were so dependent on, but the kids, having a better “relationship” with the technology than their parents, kill their parents. While the children survive, the lack of family bonds causes the parents to become little more than a memory to the children, if even that.
Memories in general are a vital part of living. And as both McCarthy and Bradbury convey, memories are quite often reawakened as one approaches death....