Alive, The Story of The Andes Survivors The novel by Piers Paul Read, tells the story of the air crash of a rugby team, in the Andes. It outlines the huge decisions made by the young athletes in order to survive the 70 day ordeal. They made decisions that would stick with them forever. Read uses factual information from the survivors, mainly Nando Parrado. It is extremely accurate with few details left out. He uses a realistic and historic approach. Being it is based on a true story, it is hard to find the points most stories use, such as a climax. A climax is difficult to establish because the author did not make the story up. The setting is October 12, 1972, a Fairchild F-227 of the Uruguayan Airforce, chartered by the young rugby team with family and friends set off from Montevideo, 45 in total. They we headed for Santiago, Chile for a rugby game. There were weather warnings in the Andes, right where they were to cross the range. They were forced to land and wait the weather out . When weather permitted them to continued their journey. The pilot thought they were through the main part of the Andes, instead he was in the middle of the mountains. Suddenly a unseen mountain appeared in front of them. One of the boys asks if the mountains should be so close. Just then the right wing hit the mountain , broke off flew back and cut the tail off. Next the other wing came off, leaving only the fuselage, to toboggan down the mountain. When it came to a stop they were in the bottom of a snow valley. The frightened passengers inside the fuselage, were just glad the ride has ended. But at what cost. Many were injured severely injured, many were dead. Marcello Perez, captain of the team, immediately took it upon himself to organize a rescue of the trapped. Along with Perez there were two medical students Roberta Canessa and Gustavo Zerbino, did what they could. Bobby Francois, immediately lit a cigarette. Carlitios Paez got and began to help. Nando Parrado, was thought to be dead at the scene, was found to be knocked out. The pilots were found to be dead. As well as many others. Thirteen in all were dead. The remaining survivors prepared for there first night. They were all extremely shocked about the whole trudge. They were all uneasy and upset, for many had lost family and friends to the crash. They tried to use the radio, but there was no power. They had no idea where they were, no way to know if they were to be rescued and no food. The Chilean Search and Rescue was forced to search for the survivors for a minimum of ten days, even though Chile was experiencing economic chaos. When they gave up the parents of the victims continued to search. All searches resulted with no success. False hopes were risen and then fell when it appeared they found the survivors, but it was a mistake. The temperature dipped to 40 below at nights. During the day it was bearable. They thought they would freeze to death each night, wearing only rugby equipment. Hardly adequate for the climate of the Andes. All they had was a small transistor radio and minimal food. There were three bottles of wine , a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of cherry brandy, a bottle of creme de menthe and have a flask of whiskey . Solid food consisted of eight chocolate bars, five bars of nougat, some caramels, some dates and dried up plums, salted crackers, two cans of mussels, one can of salted almonds, and small jars of jam. This was not a lot of food for the survivors. Marcelo Perez was in charge of rations. He made sure everyone had fair rations. Marcelo also organized groups. The first group was the medical team composed of Canessa, Zerbino, and Lilian Methol (to a lesser extent). The second group was in charge of the cabin. It included Harley, Paez, Storm and Nicolich .These kept the cabin clean. The third was the water makers. It consisted of the people who were crippled. They found clean snow and used an invention that engineer student Aldolfo Strauch created to melt snow. Many other minor inventions were made , all important in there own way. Canessa made small blankets out of seat covers. Snow shoes were made out of cushions. The group worked as a community. Cigarettes were traded for rations. They all had a certain ration of cigarettes, that if they did not use, they could trade. They knew they had to cooperate or they would not survive. There were minor disagreements. Nothing to serious. One of which was how they should get out of here. Nando Parrado wanted to walk out on his own. Marcello believed they would be rescued. The fact they were all friend helped out greatly. As the days passed, the food disappeared. What would they do when the food ran out. It was decided by the group that the only way to survive was to eat the dead. The first person to try this Roberto Canessa. He now felt he would survive. All of the others soon followed. It was the only way to survive. This was a conflict between the religious morals of others. There was the moral aspect of it. Is it right to eat the dead. Or is it suicide not to. The physical revulsion, was difficult to overcome at first, but after a while, it got easier. The idea of cannibalism, was not agreed on by all , but it was the only way to live. What would the world think of them? They prayed everyday for help. Although many planes were spotted, none found them. Marcelo Perez, was the optimistic type. He talked confidently of the rescue and tried to keep his teamís moral high. It seemed to work until one night their hope took a turn for the worse. A faint vibration, and an instant later a wall of snow engulfed everyone in the plane. Leaving Roy Harley buried up to his waist. He was the only free one. He began digging frantically, digging up Carlitos, and left him when he saw the hands of many others. When all was said and done, eight had died and 19 were still alive. Included in the dead was their captain Marcelo Perez. The moral had taken a turn for the worse. They could not figure out why God would do this to them. Many of the survivors wished they had died in the avalanche. There only hope was that God killed the others to make more food for them. But why were they chosen? It was extremely dark in the cabin now. The air was getting stale. They had another challenge to face, that was getting out. The dug there way out. Using little tools and fueled their bodies with the flesh of others. It was now October 30th 17 days in the Andes . Many of the friendships were being strained. Feuds over rations and sleeping arrangements were examples. The distrust of others was becoming more evident now. They decided to face there biggest conflict yet, to get out on there own. It was decided they would walk out when the spring hit. Spring hits the Andes half way through November. A team was chosen for this journey. Out of Parrado, Canessa, Harley, Paez, Turcatti, Vizintin and Fito Strauch, Parrado, Canessa ,Turacatti and Stauch were chosen. These would be fed better as well as has better sleeping areas. Time was running thin, the food was running out. After two failed expeditions, due to mistaken directions and weather, they planned the final expedition. Canessa, Vizintin and Parrado were chosen. They believed they found a way through the mountains, but did not have enough food. Canessa and Parrado decided to go on, but Vizintin would go back and give his food to the others. December 21st, they came across civilization. This is considered the climax, although it is hard to determine it. 70 days in the Andes had come to an end for Parrado and Canessa. They got to help and the rest were rescued within a week. There were sixteen survivors. Many were barely alive, but all were glad to be alive. When they were first rescued they did not want the world to find out what had gone on in the mountains for those weeks. Eventually the truth came out, and they were all happy to come clean. Manís will to survive is more powerful than anything. This is a definite theme of the book. The boys overcame the physical revulsion to eat human flesh. They also forced themselves out of the mountains. Another theme would be that they made do with little to no resources. Any ideas were put to use. They fought the forces of nature with these simple tools and devices. The boys figure the only reason they survived this disaster is through there belief in God, physical ability and close friendship as a team. Without these factors, survival would have been impossible. It makes a person wonder what they would do in the same situation. Would you eat the dead? Is it suicide if you donít? The survivors say that the human mind forces you to survive.
My Favorite Web Sites
Angelfire - Free Home Pages
Free Web Building Help
Lycos - Search the Web
Here is a great report on the book "Alive"