Non-Fiction Prompt #11
There are four basic different kinds of conflict:
Man against man
Man against self
Man against society
Man against nature (or environment)
Today’s prompt asks you to focus on the last one, and to write about a personal experience where setting was your main antagonist.
Jon Krakauer has made his career writing about this kind of conflict. His book, Into the Wild, was a story about a man against the Alaskan wilderness. Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Krakauer also wrote Into Thin Air, about his own attempt to climb Mount Everest, which happened to be during the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, when a surprise storm hit and killed 8 people. Another examples is Orange Is the New Black, originally a memoir by Piper Kerman. While within her story exists multiple kinds of conflict, the larger narrative is a story of a person surviving in the prison environment.
These are quite extreme examples, but similar conflicts can appear in more down-to-earth settings:I attended undergrad in upstate New York, where in winter the campus was all waist-high snow or thick solid ice over steep hills. Weather became a weighing down factor, physically and psychologically. The school was rumoured to have very high suicide rates, and there were waterfalls and bridges all over campus where now and then there’d be a mysterious death of someone falling off. However, covered in snow the campus was beautiful; it looked like Narnia. A setting like that could be a complex antagonist simply in how it affects the mood of the people in it.
Details on EVENT’s 2016 annual Non-Fiction Contest.