The Theme Of Perseverance In The Works Of Art

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What is perseverance? Perseverance means to never give up and always keep trying your very best. The theme of perseverance is showcased in the following pieces; the short story “To Build A Fire” by Jack London, Miley Cyrus’ song, “The Climb” and the painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” by Emanuel Leutze.

“To Build A Fire” by Jack London is about a newcomer from the Yukon territory who senselessly goes out into the cold despite warnings not to. He plans to meet his friends at their camp at six o'clock that night. He is accompanied by a wolf-dog, a husky, that feels no feeling of love for him. The song, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus is about proving that no matter how hard life may be at one point, it will get better in the future. “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” by Emanuel Leutze shows George Washington leading his soldiers across the Delaware River in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War.

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Perseverance is shown throughout the short story, “To Build A Fire” by Jack London. “To Build A Fire,” tells the story of a man who travels along the Yukon Trail against the warning of an old man from Sulphur Creek. The Yukon Trail was new territory for the man and instead of traveling with a partner, he travels with a wolf dog. He started his journey at nine o’clock in the morning and hoped to reach his friends at the camp on Henderson Creek by six o’clock in the evening. “The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine. He was quick and ready in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in their meanings. Fifty degrees below zero meant 80 degrees of frost. Such facts told him that it was cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to consider his weakness as a creature affected by temperature” (2). The man does not truly understand how cold it is. To the man, he thinks it's just a little bit colder than normal. In reality, he does not understand the freezing temperatures that he could face. Also, he is not aware of the consequences of the cold temperatures. The man’s lack of true meaning of the cold allows him to preserve throughout his journey. The man and the dog continue their journey for several miles. “As he walked along he rubbed his face and nose with the back of his mittened hand. He did this without thinking, frequently changing hands. But, with all his rubbing, the instant he stopped, his face and nose became numb… But it did not matter much, he decided. What was a little frost? A bit painful, that was all. It was never serious” (4-5). The man continues walking and realizes he is starting to lose feeling in his face and nose. However, he does not allow this to stop him because he preserves by telling himself even though it hurts, keep moving forward. The man was happy with his progress by the time he stopped to eat his lunch. He had built a fire for himself and the dog. Once he was warm, the man got up and started his journey again. Unfortunately, he fell into the water. He was able to get himself out but had to build another fire. “He worked slowly and carefully, realizing his danger. Gradually, as the flame grew stronger, he increased the size of the sticks with which he fed it. He sat in the snow, pulling the sticks from the bushes under the trees and feeding them directly to the flame. He knew he must not fail” (8). The man could not give up. In spite of being wet and cold, he needed to preserve, so that he could build a fire to warm his feet and dry his socks and moccasins. While the fire was burning, the man began to burn up. “He remembered the advice of the old man on Sulphur Creek and smiled. The man had been very serious when he said that no man should travel alone in that country after 50 below zero. Well, here he was; he had had the accident; he was alone, and he had saved himself. Those old men were rather womanish, he thought. All a man must do was to keep his head, and he was all right. Any man who was a man could travel alone” (9). Although the man is beginning to realize that maybe the old man was right and that he should have partnered with someone on his journey, he continues to persevere under pressure in difficult circumstances. He is determined to survive and believes that as long as he can keep thinking straight, he will be okay by himself. While trying to get warm by the fire, the snow from the tree above him fell on top of the fire and put it out. The man knew that the fire should have been in an open space. “Now, he must build the fire again, and this second time he must not fail. Even if he succeeded, he would be likely to lose some toes. His feet must be badly frozen by now, and there would be some time before the second fire was ready. Such were his thoughts, but he did not sit and think them. He was busy all the time they were passing through his mind.” (10) The man did not take the time to feel sorry for himself when the fire went out. He continued to persevere and dealt with the problem he was facing at the moment. Although he was freezing, he was able to stay focused under the pressure of having to build another fire.

Sadly, the man’s journey got worse and everything the old man told him about traveling alone in the cold was proving to be true. “It was his last moment of fear. When he had recovered his breath and his control, he sat and thought about meeting death with dignity” (15). Throughout his journey, the man persevered to survive. He bravely faced various extreme conditions. Although the man did not always make the best decisions, his final decision to die with dignity continued to show bravery and perseverance.

The theme of perseverance is evident throughout the song, “The Climb” sung by Miley Cyrus. “The Climb” is a ballad about overcoming obstacles. The image of the mountain symbolizes the difficulties of life. The act of climbing symbolizes the ongoing struggles of life. The main instruments used in the song are piano, guitar, and violin and blend nicely with the lyrics. The instruments are played softly at the beginning of the song. The tempo starts slow with a somber tone. Then, the beat picks up throughout the remainder of the song and becomes cheerful and full of hope, especially during the big progressions in the chorus. As the tempo increases, the impact of the lyrics becomes intensified, giving the listener a strong feeling of empowerment. Miley sang the song in the movie, “Hannah Montana: The Movie;” therefore, the target audience was preteens, but the song’s message can impact older teens and adults as well.

“That dream I’m dreaming, but There’s a voice inside my head saying, you’ll never reach it, every step I’m taking, every move I make feels, Lost with no direction.” These lyrics express not giving up on one’s dreams without giving a fight. Regardless of the negative thoughts one may be thinking, one needs to persevere and try to move past the negativity. “There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose.” These lyrics show that no matter how many difficulties lie in one’s path, one has to continue trying the best they can to overcome the obstacle. Life is going to be full of struggles and one needs the perseverance to help push them along. It will not be easy to overcome the obstacles, but persevere, do not give up! “Ain’t about how fast I get there Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side It’s the climb.” These lyrics tell that it is not how quickly one can jump over their hurdles or reach their destination, but instead, one should learn from the journey. Emphasis should be placed on doing the best one can and learn through the process of conquering life’s obstacles. “Just keep pushing on, ‘cause There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna wanna make it move, Always gonna be an uphill battle, Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose.” These lyrics explain that there will always be other obstacles in life that one must face to achieve their goals. Life is filled with little battles to conquer, and one must persevere to work through them and learn from them. At this point in the music, the tempo intensifies and Cyrus sings the lyrics confidently and strongly. The listener cannot help but feel strength and energy from the song. “Keep on moving, Keep climbing, Keep the faith baby, it’s all about, It’s all about, The Climb, Keep the faith, Keep your faith, Whoa oh oh.” The ending lyrics suggest that the challenges and obstacles people may encounter in life are like the mountains. To get to the top, people must persevere and push ahead to get up and over their hurdles. Attaining one’s goal may be difficult; however, faith, courage, and perseverance, will help one to stay focused and continue to move forward. The lyrics offer words of encouragement, to never give up, to continue dreaming, to move on, and to live life the way one truly wants to.

Perseverance is evident in the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted by Emanuel Leutze, a German-American artist in 1851. Washington Crossing the Delaware is one of the most famous American paintings in history as Leutze shows General George Washington crossing the Delaware River with his Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War on December twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth in 1776.

Perseverance is shown in the facial expressions of George Washington and his troops. It is visible to see that the troops were not rowing in smooth waters and their determination is seen as they maneuvered their oars around the large pieces of ice. In this oil on canvas painting, Leutze creates a scene showing a realistic image that Washington’s soldiers were experienced rowers. The darkness of the colors used presents a serious tone. However, the lightness of the sky in the background gives a sense of hope that Washington will be successful in his voyage. The crossing of the Delaware River before the attack on the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. One may explain that Washington instilled perseverance in his troops that Christmas night, hoping for a victory in Trenton that would boost the soldiers’ morale. In looking at General Washington, his posture alone, gives off a sense of pride, determination, and perseverance that no matter what he and his troops may encounter, they will not give up and push forward.

In conclusion, the theme of perseverance is shown in the following pieces; the short story “To Build A Fire” by Jack London, Miley Cyrus’ song, “The Climb” and the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze. “To Build A Fire” by Jack London told about a man and a wolf-dog on their journey in the Yukon Trail. Both the man and the dog showed perseverance as they travelled in below-freezing temperatures with little supplies. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus is an inspirational song that sends a message about how having perseverance can help one get through the obstacles and struggles of life. Lastly, the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, depicts the perseverance and determination of General George Washington and his troops as they crossed the Delaware River in uneasy waters during the American Revolutionary War. In closing, each of these three pieces shows that perseverance is an important trait to have in life. If one can persevere, then one can reach their goals no matter what obstacles they may encounter in life.

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