Study Guide

The Martian Sacrifice

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Chapter 1
Mark Watney

It wasn't your fault [...] In your position I would have done the same thing. I don't blame you, and I'm glad your survived. (1.13)

We don't know if we'd be quite as graceful if we were in Mark's situation—frankly, we'd be cursing those rapscallions to high heaven. Still, you've got to admire the guy. Instead of getting bitter, Mark realizes that he sacrificed himself so his friends could live.

Chapter 6
Teddy Sanders

"The entire focus of NASA will be to bring Mark Watney home. This will be our overriding and singular obsession until he is either back on Earth or confirmed dead on Mars." (6.188)

Mark isn't the only one making sacrifices. Although it's easy to focus on the daring exploits of the astronauts, the pencil-pushers at NASA are playing their part too. Plus, it's not like money grows on trees: NASA is definitely going to be over budget when everything is said and done. Regardless, Teddy makes it clear that no price is too steep.

Chapter 8

A month ago it would have been unthinkable to drink coffee at nine p.m. Now it was necessary fuel [...] he'd never pulled so many stunts in his life. (8.101)

Okay, so this one rates pretty low as far as sacrifices go, but we think it bears mentioning. Why? In our eyes, it gives a glimpse of the little ways that people have made sacrifices for the sake of Mr. Watney. Venkat is already running on fumes and he still has miles to go before the finish line. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

Chapter 12
Ares 3 Crew (Commander Lewis, Martinez, Johansen, Beck, Vogel)

"You really think I'll leave you behind?" Martinez said.
"I just ordered you to," Lewis replied. (12.111-112)

This takes a lot of guts. If you had any doubts about Commander Lewis' leadership skills, then this exchange surely must've changed your mind. Lewis would willingly trade places with Mark if given the opportunity.

Chapter 16
Mitch Henderson

"You just want to cut your losses. You're on damage control. You don't give a s*** about Watney's life." (16.196)

Do you agree with Mitch on this one? We go back and forth. On one hand, Teddy does seem to be overcautious about taking risks. On the other, he has good reason to be skeptical: after all, his head will be on the chopping block if things go bad. It's a tough call.

Mark Watney

You probably think losing a crewman is the worst thing that can happen. Not true. Losing the whole crew is worse. You kept that from happening. (16.214)

Now that's the truth. Whenever Commander Lewis feels guilty about leaving Mark behind, she should remind herself that doing anything else would have left them all dead. That means no more disco. No more '70s television. Unless that's what they do in heaven all day, which actually sounds kind of nice.

Chapter 19
Ares 3 Crew (Commander Lewis, Martinez, Johansen, Beck, Vogel)

"What happens if the probe fails, Beth?" her father asked.
"Everyone would die but me," she said. "They'd all take pills and die." (19.167)

This is so heavy that we can't bear to even joke about it. Still, it shows how determined the Hermes crew is—they're getting Mark back, no matter the cost. They would rather give up their lives than leave their friend behind, which is simultaneously disturbing and heart-warming.

"With a reduced diet I could stretch it to nine. But it'll be seventeen months before I get back."
"So how would you survive?"
"The supplies wouldn't be the only source of food," she said. (19.169-171)

In case you don't grasp the creepy undertones, allow us to make everything crystal clear: Johanssen is talking about eating her (former) crewmates if everything goes wrong. Might as well call herself Johanssen Lector. If we were in this situation, we'd almost rather be the ones getting eaten.

Chapter 26
Ares 3 Crew (Commander Lewis, Martinez, Johansen, Beck, Vogel)

"If I can't reach Mark, I want you to release my tether."
"Dr. Beck," Vogel said, "the commander has said no to this." (26.44-45)

Beck is one tough cookie. In one moment, he decides to go against his orders and perform a risky maneuver, even though it could lead to a very nasty death. This is something we see time and time again over the course of The Martian.

Mark Watney

They did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it's true. (26.424)

It might sound new agey, but it's 100% true. Mark's story inspired countless individuals to join the cause and aid in his rescue, each making their own sacrifices—big and small—over those two years. Everybody contributed to getting him home, in their own way.

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