Study Guide

The Martian Fear

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While it might not feature any bloodthirsty aliens, The Martian is a pretty scary novel in its own right. Stranded on Mars without any hope of rescue, Mark Watney is stuck in his own personal horror movie, forced to face the constant possibility of a catastrophic equipment failure or sudden disaster. That might not the same thing as trading blows with Freddy Kruger, but it's pretty frightening.

Although Mark is crippled by fear at times, he ultimately learns that the best way to fight back is simply by moving forward and facing your fears head-on. Does it work 100% of the time? No way. But, when you're stuck in a situation like Mark's, you have to take whatever you can get.

Questions About Fear

  1. What is Mark's biggest fear? Explain.
  2. Do you sympathize with Teddy's fears about telling the Hermes crew that Mark is alive?
  3. In what ways does Mark's response to fear change over the course of the novel?
  4. Does fear play a negative or positive role in Mark's survival? Explain.

Chew on This

Although Mark's fear can be crippling at times, it ultimately drives him forward and makes him fight harder.

If Mark listened to NASA every time they were afraid of him hurting himself, he'd never make it off Mars alive.

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