Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest

I think the song Survival by Eminem connects well with the book The Year of the Flood by Maraget Attwood. Survival has a catchy intro saying, “This is survival of the fittest, this is do or die.”(Hook) Rapping is a dog-eat-dog world; the best rapper comes out on top. It literally is survival of the fittest. In The Year of the Flood, Toby is faced with surviving every day after the waterless flood. She has to become the “fittest” in her environment to survive.

Survival of the fittest does not mean exactly what it sounds like. The word “fittest” is misleading. Fittest does not mean the strongest, healthiest, and most in shape person will survive. It means the most adapted person to the situation will survive.

In the Year of the Flood, Toby is one of the “fittest”. She is well adapted to living on her own. Before the waterless flood she lived with the Gardeners. She learned how to grow her own food, cultivate bees, search for food and also heal wounds with maggots. With those skills Toby can survive by herself. When she is outside of the AnooYoo spa, she does not walk around freely. Toby “moved from tree to tree along the verge, hugging the shadows.” (21) She hides from animals; one mistake and it can be deadly. Toby remembers Adam One saying, “When the small creatures hush their singing, it’s because they’re afraid. You must listen for the sound of their fear.” (5) Toby is aware of her surrounding at all times. She has adapted her mentality to always be aware of predators. She has become the “fittest” when it comes to surviving outside the AnooYoo. Inside the safe house she has also adapted to the new way of life. For water “She keeps a number of pails and bowls up on the rooftop, for collecting the afternoon-storm rainwater.” (16) Humans cannot survive without fresh water. Humans will also become sick if they drink from streams and lakes. Toby has adapted to her environment and learned how to collect water. She has also created a system for cooking. It is “Best to cook outside, because of the smoke and heat. She’s using her Saint Euelll-inspired hobo stove, made of a bulk-sized body-butter can: hole in the bottom for dry sticks and the draft, hole on the side for smoke. The maximum heat for the minimum fuel. No more than needed.” (349) Toby has adapted to a life without a gas or electric stove. She has created a grill out of materials accessible to her. The grill also uses fuel to its maximum efficiency. This means Toby has to leave the AnooYoo less for fuel, meaning she is safer from predators. She has adapted to her environment in order to survive or in other words she is the “fittest” because she has survived against the odds.

The song Survival is about Eminem and his will to survive. Eminem is now 41 years old. In a competitive music world that is “old”. It is like many professional sports; after a player reaches his mid 30’s he is considered “old”. Eminem has adapted to the changing world of music. Eminem is, “F**ing back again, with another anthem, why stop when it doesn’t have to end.”(verse 1) He has survived through decades of changing music to come out on top. He is “Not a rapper, I’m an adapater – I can adjust.”(verse 2) This quote is the real meaning of survival of the fittest. He is not just a rapper or the “fittest”. Eminem is an adapter, that is the only way he has survived. He might be older or less educated, but he adapts to the changing competition because, “This is survival of the fittest, this is do or die.”

Survival and The Year of the Flood are connected by the theme survival of the fittest. Eminem has survived through decades of changing music. He is able to adapt when music changes. This is like Toby, she is able to adapt when the environment around her changes. When the waterless flood changes the environment, Toby adapts. She is cautious when outdoors and resourceful when providing for herself. Both Toby and Eminem have become some of the most adapted humans in their environment. When the going is rough, it “is survival of the fittest, this is do or die”.


Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood: A Novel. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009. Print.

“Eminem – Survival Lyrics | Genius.” Print.


Written by, Ian Hislop


Heart Pounding

Fight or flight has been embedded in the minds of humans throughout the evolutionary process. It is a split second decision that humans make subconsciously. Humans make the decision to run from danger, or to stand tall and fight against it. When looking through a Darwinist lens this evolutionary trait is seen repeatedly in the novel The Road. The father and son live in a world of danger. From cannibals to cold weather they are never safe. There are times they need to run and hide from cannibals. Other times there is no chance to run, they need to fight. They are starving and low are ammunition. They cannot run forever, yet they cannot fight forever. They walk a fine line between life and death. This Pleistocene instinct is what helps keep both, father and son alive on their journey down south. In my found poem I tried to embody the evolutionary instinct of fight or flight. This poem is just a glimpse into the horrid lives of the father and his son.


Heart Pounding


— found poem by Ian Hislop, excerpted from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006). New York: Vintage, pp. 49, 66, 67, 60, 61, 62, 107, 110, 112, 115, 128, 129, 155, 169, 195.


Hurry, run

Terrified, frail and coughing

Hearts pounding

Father and son run


Crouched over

Listening for noises

Shh, he said

Scared and weak

They move on

Down the long black road


Freezing, Shivering and starving

Father and son lay in the cold darkness


More noises

A man comes forward


Pistol cocked

He fired, it cracked violently

The man dropped to the ground

The father lifted the boy


Hurry, run

Terrified, frail and coughing

Hearts pounding

Father and son run


McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print


Written by, Ian Hislop