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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 02, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 02, 2012



Alex Soncrant
Mr. A
English II
Oct. 17, 2011


There will be a time when you’re stuck in a situation you can’t get out of. The story “The Cold Equations” shows you even when you are stuck in a situation you can’t control there are people out there trying to help even if it’s not enough. In this story, the character Marilyn stows away on the space ship call the EDS, which stands for Emergency Dispatch Ship. All she wanted to do is go see her brother she hasn’t seen for years. But if she knew what the penalty of stowing away on this ship would be, she would have never gotten on. In the story “The Cold Equations” here are four elements that help you see the situation that is going on in the story, like the characters, the theme, the point of view, and the irony.

First, an important element in the story “The Cold Equations” are the characters, Barton, Marilyn, and Gerry, which they help us see, even in desperate times, people try to help others even if it’s not enough. The character Barton is a EDS pilot, professional, and he would kill a man he didn’t even know, as it says in this quote, “He was an EDS pilot, inured to the sight of death, long since accustomed to it and to viewing the dying of another man with an objective lack of emotion, and he had no choice in what he must do. There could be no alternative-but it required a few moments of conditioning fir even an EDS pilot to prepare himself to walk across the room and coldly, deliberately, take the life of a man he had yet to meet.” (Godwin 10) How this says he’s accustomed to it and watching a man he doesn’t even know die, with no emotion, makes him sound like he has no heart. Any normal person would have a hard time taking a life from an innocent man. But in this quote, “‘I’m sorry.’ He spoke slowly to her, gently, ‘I should have told you before-I should have, but I had to do what I could first; I had to call the Stardust. You heard what he commander said.’” (14) He didn’t want this poor girl to have to die, he did all he could to try and save her. This girl he tried to save is, Marilyn as it says in this quote, “‘Marilyn Less Cross. Sex, female. Born July 7, 2160.’ She was only eighteen. ‘Height, five-three. Weight, hundred and ten.’ Such a slight weight, yet enough to add fatally to the mass of the shellthin bubble that was EDS.’ Hair, brown. Eyes, blue. Complexion, light. Blood type O.” (15). Marilyn was only eighteen, so young, she didn’t know that stowing away on the EDS meant she had to die for it. All she wanted to do is see her brother that she hasn’t seen for years. His name was Gerry, as it says in this quote, “‘He didn’t tell us. He said the pay was good, and he sent money home all the time because Daddy’s little shop just brought in a bare living, but he didn’t tell us it was like this.”(12) He was a good brother, cared for his family as much as he could. The characters Barton, Marilyn and Gerry are important in this story they try to help people even in impossible situations.

Second, another important element the helps understand the situation of the story is, point of view, third person limited. Which means the writer is using “he” “she” language and you’re only hearing one of the characters thoughts. If we could have heard the other characters thoughts the story would’ve sounded way different. In this quote, “He delayed the answer he must give her so soon.” (12) You can see the writer uses “he” and “she”, which makes it third person, the narrator wasn’t in the story, he was only telling it. Also the quote, “She was only eighteen.(15) you can hear Barton’s thoughts but not Marilyn’s. If we heard Marilyn’s thoughts we probably wouldn’t have thought Barton was as nice as he was. The story “The Cold Equations” being third person limited sets the story differently then if it would have been in a different point of view.

Third, irony is another great element, in the story “The Cold Equations” that helps still get the hard situation of the story but make it less serious. “I’m guilty, so what happens to me now? Do I pay a fine, or what?” (12) This quote is dramatic irony, the readings of the story and Barton knows what has to happen to Marilyn. She only thinks she has to pay a fine or be punished. But she didn’t know the punishment for being a stowaway on the EDS, is death. “Group two-the crew your brother is in-is eight thousand miles away across the Western sea, and their helicopters can’t cross it to help Group One.” (15)  Even if Marilyn didn’t have to die, she still couldn’t have seen her brother, this is situational irony, because Gerry was eight thousand miles away from were the EDS was actually going. This quote is verbal irony, “‘Isn’t it---’ She stopped, and he looked at her questioningly. ‘Isn’t it colder in here.’ she asked, almost apologetically. ‘Doesn’t it seem cold to you?’ ‘Why yes,’ he said. He saw by the main temperature gauge that the room was at precisely normal temperature. ‘Yes, it’s colder than it should be.’” (23) When Marilyn asked if it was cold in here, Barton said it was, even though the temperature was normal. In this story there was dramatic, situational, and verbal irony that helps us see people are trying to help even in desperate times, with the irony it makes it a little less serious.

Fourth, the element of literature theme, is a great part of this story to help keep people see even in hard times people are trying to help each other and a good thing to remember. Marilyn went somewhere that said stay out and she had to die because of it. “You’re going to make me die and I didn’t do anything to die for--I didn’t do anything---” (14) Even though she didn’t think what she did was such a bad thing, she had to face the consequences. “She stepped into the air lock and turned to face him, only the pulse in her throat to betray the wild beating of her heart. ‘I’m ready,’ she said.” (27) After she went, Barton was alone, he just took the life of a innocent eighteen year old girl, all she wanted to do is see her brother Gerry. “A cold equation had been balanced and he was alone on the ship.” (27) The theme of this story is, there will be things in life that happen that you have no control over. Maybe not has bad as what Marilyn had to do. The theme of “The Cold Equations” helps us see people, do try to help one another.
In the story “The Cold Equations” here are four elements that help us see even in desperate times people are trying to help others, like the interesting characters, the theme, the point of view, and the irony. Barton, Marilyn, and Gerry were the characters in this story. The point of view was third person limited which made you only see Barton’s point of view. There was dramatic, situational, and verbal irony going on in the story. The theme of the story is, there will be things in life that happen that you have no control over. So, the next time somebody is in a situation that might be hopeless to fix, it might not be that bad of an idea to help has much as you can, even if it’s barely nothing.

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