Question: Non-fiction texts allow you to examine significant ideas and themes in our society. Discuss the importance of how one or more ideas/themes have been made evident to you through the texts you have studied.
Life is one big struggle for us all, but we learn from our mistakes and move on, to ultimately achieve a desired goal. It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong, tells the tale of one man’s struggle through cancer, and although all odds were stacked against him, he managed to succeed beyond all doubt and win the Tour de France three times. Whilst teaching us about our own capacity to achieve greatness, this non-fiction text examines the theme of bravery through the retrospective point of view, language and structure.
Throughout the autobiography, we are immediately made aware of the bravery that Armstrong has as he tells his story, first hand, of his cancer battle and Tour de France wins. By using a retrospective viewpoint, we see the hardships that Armstrong faced leading up to his Tour de France triumph. We are taken on the journey with Armstrong as he explains how hard his life was and how, although he had a very slim chance of overcoming his cancer, he maintained a brave outlook and managed to push through his chemo treatments, which he describes as, ‘a destroying river of pollutants.’ Although we ourselves may not have experiences the horrors of chemotherapy, we are still able to treat it as a metaphor for our own lives in which we were brave in order to succeed.
That Which was Happy was Very Short in Duration In Ernest Hemingways story, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Francis Macomber, according to Hemingway, is a very unhappy man because of his cowardly display after facing a wounded lion and because of his inability to stand up to his wife. However, Francis Macomber regains his happiness, contentment, self-control and bravery while out hunting ...
The language used in It’s Not About the Bike is very inviting for the reader as we are able to relate, on a more personal level, to the struggles faced in the text. By personifying Armstrong’s cancer as ‘the bastard’ we immediately are positioned to see that the cancer was some form of opponent, an obstacle, which he had to defeat to continue living his life. Another non-fiction text, Touhing the Void, by Smithson and Mcdonald, also depicts the bravery of men, this time to climb a mountain. Simpson and Yates both saw the mountain as an obstacle which they had to overcome and although all odds were against the pair, their bravery helped them reach their goal. We may not have the mountain climbing or cycling skills of these men, but we do have the capacity to be brave and if we choose to be brave, we will be able to overcome obstacles we are faced with in our own lives.
The structure of It’s Not about the Bike, provides us with a different perspective of Lance Armstrong. Rather than being the Tour de France winner, he is the survivor of a life filled with challenges. Through sequencing, Armstrong’s fight with cancer is immediately foregrounded as opposed to his Tour de France ride. By doing this, we are positioned to see that the Tour de France was not the only accomplishment in Armstrong’s life, he was a ‘cancer survivor’ Lance explicitly states that ‘if I had to choose between winning the Tour de France and cancer, I would choose cancer.’ This quote is a perfect example of how Lance’s cancer is more important to him than his cycling career. Although he does say that his cycling was very important to him, due to the sequencing used in the text, we see that he put his life before his career which was the best decision that he made as it saved his life.
‘Your past forms you, whether you like it or not.’ Valuable lessons are to be learnt from these texts, and if we ‘make every obstacle an opportunity,’ dreams are achievable. Although we may not be mountain climbers or cyclists, if we believe in ourselves, we can overcome obstacles in the face of adversity. And as the old adage goes, it is not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves.