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Z for Zachariah


“ Z for Zachariah” is the title of the science fiction novel that I have been studying. It was written by Robert O’ Brien which was first published in 1973 and was written during the “Cold War”, wrote it. The plot of the novel is basically about isolation and the struggle to survive not directly a nuclear war but the after effects.

The main character in the novel is Ann Burden, from Burden Valley, in the United States of America. A nuclear war has left Ann all alone, as her complete family have been killed by the disaster: “When I look beyond I see that all the trees are dead, and there is never a sign of anything moving. I don’t go out there.” The valley however has been untouched by the devastation. Ann is entrapped, as everything beyond the circumference of Burden is unproductive of life. She leads a simple life-style. Cleverly using nature to survive. She shuts herself off from the past, and looks forward to the future: “I am hopeful to be an English teacher.” I believe that Ann is a very optimistic person who never gives up on hope.

Her farm upbringing has equipped her with a great deal of common sense, practicality and resourcefulness. Ann can shoot, cook and drive a tractor, as well as fish and do agricultural work. This helping her to make life on her own a lot less of a struggle and showing us that she has good survival skills. This shows us that she is independent and well organised.

A stranger arrives one day in a plastic suit and Ann watches him explore the valley from the cave that she is observing him from. Ann has mixed feelings: “I am both exited and afraid.” She longs for companionship but she’s also a very cautious individual: “I want to see who it is before I show myself.” She carefully watches his every move: “Suppose he was crazy… A murderer? What would I do?â€

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