Study Guide

Teddy Sanders in The Martian

By Andy Weir

Teddy Sanders

Our boy Teddy Sanders really gets the short end of the stick.

Basically, the guy leads the charge to rescue Mark, sacrificing his days and nights in pursuit of this one goal. For almost two years. Here's the kicker: after all of that, all he gets in thanks are accusations of not being "willing to take risks to save lives" (16.323). While there's some truth to this statement, it overlooks the most important aspects of Teddy's character.

Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

We can all agree that Teddy is a cautious dude. Teddy acts as NASA's in-house conscience and is always sure to have a careful "discussion about what's safest" before coming to any decision (16.168). Sometimes he believes the potential benefits outweigh the risks, like when he decides to skip inspections for the Solaris probe. At others—like during the Purnell Maneuver debacle—he refuses to take chances.

Although Mitch tears Teddy a new one for chickening out on the Purnell Maneuver, we think the guy is being a little harsh. Remember: Mitch is only in charge of the Ares 3 mission, while Teddy runs the whole of NASA. That's a major responsibility: Teddy has to make sure that things are running smoothly in order to keep NASA alive and kicking.

Top Of The Food Chain

So, yes, Teddy is more cautious than Mitch, but that's only because everything rests on Teddy's shoulders. It's like when Venkat refuses to give a speech on Mark's death because "nice words from the directors of Mars operation won't bring him back" (6.5). Teddy doesn't have a choice in the matter—being a leader is his responsibility.

With that in mind, we should all try to be a bit more sympathetic towards Teddy's perspective. After all, NASA needed a focused leader to make such an elaborate (and expensive) rescue mission possible, and Teddy that role admirably. He might not be the kind of character you'd want to hang out with, and he's maybe not the most heroic character in this story, but he's a dang fine manager most of the time.

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