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Navigating the Global explores the challenges and complexities confronted by individuals embarking on a quest for a greater meaning in their lives. The concept of globalization is an ever growing understanding of the complexities and challenges of the late 20th to 21st century world where the increase in technology and communication has lead to the homogenization of cultural values.

The concept of navigating through these complexities is referred to by critic T.

Friedman as “An inevitable process of western civilization battling forces of primitivism and localism” Which can be seen in the 1981 novel The Mosquito Coast (TMC) by Paul Theroux and the 2007 film Into the wild directed by Sean Penn (ITW) demonstrates the consequences brought by failure to adopt the hybridity of the “glocal”. TMC depicts the geographical navigation from modern America to the most extreme form of “primitivism” Honduras as a journey of profound and moral significance away from American “the high prices, bad tempers, unpunished criminals”.

In the opening chapters the audience is presented with Charlie’s father, Allie who criticizes the consumerist values upheld in America, through his tirades against American consumerist and materialist attitudes “Water ‘s as free as air. Those dinghbats are selling water! ” illustrating his rejection of the mainstream Western consumer values. This results in Allie’s quest to escape the debauchery and despair of American society through the construction of a new “civilization” in Jeronimo.

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Mosquito Quest

Allie’s first confrontation with the native Zambus is one of implicit criticism “what a hole, I wouldn’t be caught in that dump” which shows Allie’s innate disrespect for the local as he fails to recognize the local as an alternate source of knowledge. ITW similarly portrays an individual’s quest through the navigation between the local and the global in search for a greater meaning in their lives from “history and oppression and law and irksome obligations” .

ITW demonstrates the challenges faced by individuals’ differing perceptions of “freedom” by Christopher’s navigation from the US to Alaska presenting himself as an idealist similar to Allie “to kill the false being within, no longer to be poisoned by civilization”. The initial flashback to Chris’ rites of passage highlights the conflicting values imposed upon him by his parents and society” I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges. The red tiles glinting like bent plates of blood behind his head. The dark imagery presented by the omniscient narrator along with the cinematography of mortar boards being thrown in the air depicts the inner conflict presents within individuals under the superficial mask of western expectations which results in the Chris’ escape “into the wild” The challenges faced by navigation of the global through a “woven world” can be seen in the figure of Allie Fox where manifestations within himself prove to have destructive consequences.

Allie’s insistence of being the “last man” and feeling “like god” ironically, demonstrates Allie raising himself to a secular figure despite rejecting religion. This superbia is portrayed in the intertextual allusion to Frankstein, assuming God’s role at the ultimate creation “man is god” as Jeronimo becomes a personified embodiment of Allie’s dream. Allie’s creation of “Fat boy” an ominous allusion to nuclear destruction “plants scorched and stems blistered like flesh” highlighting the resultant destruction of “the forces of western civilization and localism”.

Allie’s failure to adopt the local is contrasted by the success of The Acre – an archetype of T. Friendman’s “glocalised society” which adopts the hybrid culture of communal acceptance and globalized values “spending money, arithmetic //we lived off the land” demonstrates the values from an individual’s navigation from their immediate environment becomes the fundamental of their own quest for meaning.

Paralleled within TMC the destructive consequences of over indulgence in Western culture can be seen through the figures of Chris’ parents, Walt McCandless and Billie McCandless whose manifestations of academic success and wealth results in an unstable relationship ”The divorce never happened,but the battles and the meetings never stopped. ” The montage of celebration along with the non diegetic narration of the events highlights the superficiality of their connections as they indulge further into westernized values “the careerism and money seemed only to embolden their blindness. In contrast, the relationship between Gene Rosellini and Jan Burres demonstrates a stable relationship through adoption of the hybrid values of the local and the global, emphasised by the cross cutting of the McCandless “to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head” Allie’s failed quest for meaning in Honduras and his regression into “savagery” as he transforms into “a live scarecrow, the wild man” , is eflected in Charlie’s description of the river as he continuously attempts to move further upstream “The river bubbled and streamed with decay” which parallels Allie’s decent into lunacy with contradictory statements “We are the first family on earth// We are the last survivors”, highlighting Allie’s lost sense of direction which is symbolized by the truncated finger which he uses to navigate through the river “He waved his stump upward // every mile seemed like a mistake, because we were not free anymore”. ecomes an ironic motif as he transitions into a “scavenger” reinforcing the repeated imagery of cultures hovering above Allie foreshadowing his own death whilst navigating through the river due to his inability to adjust with the local “he was the savage not the Zambu” Like in TMC the river is a constant motif that parallels Chris’ journey towards Alaska serving as a means of direction in his quest for truth “rather than love, than money, than fame, than fairness”.

The Rembrandt lighting of Chris’ face in his navigation through the river symbolises the realisation brought through by forced reflection “This fact suddenly re-defined Chris and me as bastard children” The corresponding relation between journeys and the river becomes evident as the Chris’ journey progresses through the chapters of his life. Similar to TMC the pathetic fallacy of the river demonstrates the inner journey Chris undergone as he reaches the end of the river and the film concludes with rhetorical questions “What if I were smiling and running into your arms?

Would you see then what I see now? ” demonstrating how Chris’ navigation through the river has resulted in a carthasis and thus ending his quest for meaning. Whilst Allie fails to successfully navigate the global ignoring his family and the knowledge of the local his son Charlie reveals a more empathetic, accepting and therefore a successful approach to the global experiences.

Charlie’s navigation into maturity is highlighted as he uses his knowledge from both the local and the global as a distinct opportunity to save his family “but I wanted to go on // because there we were free”. Charlie’s development into maturity and psychological freedom is paralleled in his journey through the river highlighting an individual’s quest through the challenges and complexities can be overcome by adoption of the hybrid notions of the “glocal”

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The Mosquito Coast. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

The Mosquito Coast
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