As little as one may expect to find it, life finds a way to adapt to the most unlikely and inhospitable environments. Above I’ve included an image of a Acacia tree–an organism that can thrive in very barren deserts–and the mountains behind, as representing something like what I had in mind for Will’s sniper’s blind in Chapter 9.
Some believe that human beings are the most adaptable and survivable of all. As a species, I’d have to agree that we rank right alongside others such as rats, viruses, and roaches. But what about individual flexibility? How much change can a single person undergo, how adverse the conditions tolerate, during his lifetime, before reaching the breaking point? A certain tradition of literary realism, called Naturalism, often puts its characters into situations that function much like a pressure cooker, with author as a very cold-blooded scientific experimenter, to study the answers to these very questions.
At the point in the novel (about midway) that my male protagonist finds himself in this tree, faced with an irrevocable choice between life and death, he has already undergone much physical and some mental evolution. But the spiritual challenges–which demarcate a human being from every other animal–still lie ahead: will he evolve, or devolve?