Triage Essay

“The heart is an unpredictable beast. ” How does Triage show this to be true? In the novel Triage, author Scott Anderson makes obvious that the emotions and the states of mind of each character are capricious, far from expected. Mark Walsh, the protagonist, is a war photographer who has always believed that he is able to cope with his job by “keeping it separate” from his life outside his job. However, after the traumatising experiences in Kurdistan, his emotions are proven to be random and impulsive, thus leading to unforseen actions.

Mark’s disturbed emotions cause him to disremember Colin’s death and thus lead him to a series of abnormal emotion and feelings. Also, we can see that a fickle heart can be alarmingly dangerous; it may even lead to blameless fatalities. In Triage, the survivors of war possess a complicated state of mind. The heart oftentimes seems steady and foreseeable, but this is merely a facade and hides an erratic, fickle, sometimes volatile nature. In Kurdistan, Mark is hit by an artillery shell and seriously injured. He is forced to leave his best friend, Colin, behind in aid of his own survival.

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As a result, his coping mechanism of “keeping it separate” collapses. No longer “shielded” from the effects of war by his camera, Mark is pushed over the edge and suffers a mental breakdown. Mark loses his memory of Kurdistan. Coming back to New York, Elena “struggled to find something familiar” in him, but her lover is almost unrecognizable to her. Still, Mark keeps the events of Kurdistan from her, “letting out the pain only when he thought he was alone”. Being the sensitive person that he is, Mark simply could not bear to tell Elena, though there were moments where he was tempted to.

However, the “beast” in him retaliates, reasons with him, saying that he needs “time”. Opposing to the thoughts of his mind, he instead tells Elena that “it was revealed to me that I should have a baby with you”. Elena tries to get him to see a doctor, but Mark refuses, insisting that he is fine. Mark is, in actual fact, struggling with the “beast” inside of him. He struggles to understand even his own emotions. “He would tell her all of it, but first he needed to make sense of it himself. ” The emotions from Kurdistan are eating him up, destroying him from the inside.

Even when he thinks that he is recovering, his mind cannot help but wander back to Kurdistan, “back on the mountain”, recalling the horrifying experiences. “And then he was back on the mountain. He was saying his last prayer-“I don’t want to die here, I don’t want to die here. ” It is apparent, therefore that Mark’s mind, soul, and temperament, becomes unforeseeable after Kurdistan. (retelling the story too much – link back to topic) reality kicks in, completely different from what is expected) Furthermore, every so often, a man’s heart can overpower his conscience and consequence….

In Kurdistan, Mark meets a war doctor, Dr. Ahmet Talzani who practices triage on his patients. He gives them coloured tags which determined their fate. “Get yellow and be shunted aside. Get red and be treated. Get blue and die. ” Talzani later shares with Mark that for many, it may seem like this was a system, “a scientific method to decide who lives and who dies”. But to him, all he believes in is fate. His emotion at the instant when a patient is brought to him is what that counts most. He bravely admits that sometimes when he is “tired”, he is not even sure of the colours that he gives to his patients.

Yet, he “sleeps soundly at night”. He does not feel guilty. His human conscience is unperturbed. Talzani believes that “some live, and some die, there is nothing more to it than that”. Similarly, Joaquin opinion of war reflects that a man’s emotion can throw someone off the edge, leading him to do terrible things. Joaquin deems that war is caused by man’s “boredom”. “We slaughter each other without mercy because we wanted to see how blood ran, because it seemed an interesting thing to do. ” Indeed, the heart of a man can sometimes be an appalling thing, a beast. Franco, according to Joaquin, did not have a conscience.

He executed people as he liked. Joaquin could never comprehend the “beast” inside of Franco. “And I’ve often wondered, how did he decide? ” Joaquin believed that Franco was misled by his emotions, that he executed them because “he didn’t like the sounds of their names” or because “his stomach was irritated that night”, and this irrevocably led to thousands of innocent deaths in the Spanish Civil War. Moreover, the heart of a war survivor can be deemed unpredictable. In the process of helping Mark “recover”, Joaquin gets Mark to tell him unforgettable “war stories”.

One of them took place in Uganda, in an area called the Luwero Triangle, the main battlefield of the Civil War. Mark was aghast to see that the survivors were “harvesting the dead, the bones of the dead”, although there was in actual fact, no way to tell the difference between the bones. Nonetheless, the survivors “seemed to have faith that if they were very methodical about it, if they concentrated enough”, they would eventually find the ones that belonged to them. “It was the most ghoulish thing I’ve ever seen. ” A woman then comes up to Mark and pleads him to help her find the bones of her family.

And so, Mark “pretends” to help her. He makes a show of looking them over, “like he’s really studying and analysing” the bones. After that, the woman tried to pay Mark. “There was just something so sad and dignified, proud, in that. ” The woman’s heart was grateful towards Mark, though she “understood very well that this was a hopeless exercise” that Mark was simply playacting. “It’s a very complicated matter to be a survivor. ” The woman was the only stayer in the war. She placed her faith in “magic”, believed in answers that she knew that were not true.

The capriciousness of the woman’s heart was what stunned Mark, which made her become one of Mark’s haunting war stories. (too much narrating, integrate explanation) Similarly, Mark suffered from “the guilt of the survivor. ” He feels guilty of Colin’s death. Hence, he is desperate to locate Carlos Perez. Elena suspects that the search is “atonement” in relation to Colin’s death. Mark’s heart oddly believes that if he is able to find Carlos Perez, Colin will be found to him. Both the woman in Uganda and Mark, survivors of war, has hearts that are mutually adrift to reality.

It is evident that the sentiments of the characters in Triage cannot be predicted, almost uncontrollable, like a wild creature. The heart can be a reason for one’s pretence, an animal that is able to override one’s integrity, and a beast whose actions are unforeseeable. (include summary of main ideas) Why is the heart an unpredictable beast? It is part of learning… IF the heart was predictable…? What do the characters learn? How this is necessary. The unpredictability of Mark’s heart is the driving force behind Mark’s healing.

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