A true survivor can only depend on himself. The novel deliverance is a story about four characters each with different views on surviving. Every man in the world can relate to one of the three secondary characters in the novel Deliverance. Men can relate to Lewis Medlock for his primitive views, Drew for his rationality, or Bobby for his lack of ability to survive. Many people say that Lewis is the man that most men want to be like, Drew is the man that most men are like, and Bobby is the man that most men fear becoming. Lewis is the man most men want to be because he does not depend on anyone or anything. He loves a challenge and will do anything he can to live life to its fullest extent. Ed Gentry, the central character, represents all in the way he looks up to Lewis and strives to be like him. Most men fall into the same category as Drew because their ability to survive has been clouded by rational thoughts. Then there is Bobby. Most men do not want to be linked with Bobby because he can not live without help from civilization. Even though these characters posses many of the same traits, their main differences are in their ability to survive life. They also have different views on life. Lewis sees life as a game that you must constantly challenge if you are to survive. Drew sees life as a struggle that should never be challenged. Then there is Bobby who sees life as something he does not have to worry about because their will always be someone their to help him through it. All three of these characters possess traits that can be identified in every man.
First there is Lewis, a middle aged man that is at the prime of his life, and fears nothing. He is the strongest character in the book. He is, “? a physical-conditioning perfectionist with misplaces survival-of-the-fittest instincts and cave-man yearnings”(Warren). Lewis is the man that most men want to be like because he needs no one to survive but himself. He constantly demonstrates a primitive life-style that no longer exists. The primitive life-style he demonstrates is one of survival. Lewis is an attractive character for males because of his need for no one. He needs no one to life his life for him. He knows that the only way to fully enjoy life is to take chances. He also feels that live is a game that you must constantly play or you will die (Graham). Because he sees life in this manner he believes that he must constantly challenge himself just to make sure he is self sufficient. “He?s nuts about roughing it” (Warren). Even though Lewis has a strong ability to survive whatever life might bring upon him, he is not blind to the fact that he can still be hurt even with help from others. This is most evident when he says, “But I believe in survival. All kinds. Every time I come up here, I believe in it more. You know, with all this so-called modern conveniences, a man can still fall down”(50). Lewis does not believe it is right for man to let machines take our independence away from us. He believes that it will be better if we all began to depend on ourselves instead of others. Lewis is the only true survivor out of the characters.
Next there is Drew, the man that most men are like. Drew is a rational man that has just begun to lose his ability to survive. Drew unlike Lewis does not see life as a game, but instead as a struggle that will pass you by as long as you to do not interfere. He is a normal man with a lovely family, a delightful suburban house, and a good job. Drew is often seen as a self-made-man that has been living in the city too long and has forgotten how to be independent. He has spent so much of his time using rational thought that he can no longer use his primitive survival skills. This is most evident after they kill the first mountain man. Drew says, “Put the body in one of the canoes and take it down to Aintry and turn it over to the highway patrol” (121). Drew believe that they should go to the police, and depend on them to do the right thing; however, the others know that if they do that they will all be faced with murder charges, and might go to jail. Drew can not believe that they want to hide the body from the police because it is not the rational thing to do. This scene shows Drew?s inability to be independent. He represents the first stages of man?s loss of his ability to survive. At the beginning of the book Ed?s survival skills resemble Drew?s inability to survive. However, because of Ed?s trials and tribulations he takes a different path, and by the end of the book is completely independent. Drew represents a majority of the population because he lets his rational thoughts cloud his ability to survive.
Finally there is Bobby, who represents the man we all fear of becoming. Bobby is completely dependent on other people and machines. Without either he would not be able to survive. Bobby, unlike Lewis and Drew, sees life without any dangers, and because he does not see the dangers he walks blindly through life. He has a weak mind and is easily persuaded. He is unlike Drew and Lewis in the fact that he has never been forced to depend only upon himself. During his entire life he has had someone to take care of him. The scene after they find Drew?s body shows Bobby?s inability to survive. After seeing Drew?s body, Bobby began to hide his head, and loses control of his mind. Bobby represents the future of mankind. He represents a man of the future that has become so dependent on other people and machines that he can no longer function. Ever time he is faced with a dilemma he turns to either Ed or to Lewis for the answer. When Lewis breaks his leg and either Bobby or Lewis must climb the cliff to kill the second mountain man, Bobby is the first to let Ed know that he can not do it because, “I can?t even shoot a bow” (155). This cowardly position, again, shows Bobby?s dependence upon others. Bobby is the man most men fear becoming because he is unable to depend on himself therefore he is unable to survive. If Ed had not been delivered on the river then there is a chance that he would have ended up like Bobby.
In conclusion, every man can be linked to one of the characters in the book. To Ed, Lewis seems to be a super human being that is not afraid of anything. He will challenge anything or anybody to prove he can survive. Drew is the most rational man and the man that most men can relate to. In the beginning of the novel Ed did not know how he felt about Drew, but by the end of the book he realized that Drew was, “The only decent one; the only sane one” (220). Finally there is Bobby, who Ed sees as a friend at the beginning of the trip, but by the end he has seen that Bobby is helpless. It is ironic that the only one who walked away from the adventure without any physical wounds is Bobby. This could be due to the fact that he depended on other people to take care of him and in the process they got hurt. These four men went down the river to test their survival skill, and, “? to break the ho-hum-ness of their suburbanite weekends by taking a canoe trip down a dangerous river.” The book deliverance is almost a prophesy of things to come if man does not stop relying on other people so much.
Moorhead, Michael. “Dickey?s Deliverance”. Explicator Summer 1993: 247-248
Dickey, James. Deliverance. New York: Delta, 1970.