Applied Intelligence and Knowledge Conquers All
In his novel, Eaters of the Dead, author Michael Crichton shows how the Volga Northmen were able to defeat their foes, the wendol, by using their intellect instead of their weapons. This is seen in four aspects. The theme of the novel is that physical courage is not enough to preserve your culture and lifestyle: intelligence and superior knowledge are absolutely essential. Conflict between the wendol and the Northmen shows which group has the intelligence to eliminate the other. Symbolism of wisdom, knowledge, and the lack of such things are used by Crichton to illustrate this moral. The juxtaposition of characters emphasizes the cleverness of the Volga Northmen compared to the Venden Northmen. The theme of the story is that applying intelligence and knowledge is essential in order to keep one’s culture alive. A good proof of this is the lack of knowledge of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, the narrator of the story. He is an Arab who “knows nothing of the ways of the world” (p. 77) because he has never truly experienced the world before that day, since he does not care for adventure. Having no experience with the world and having no knowledge, Ibn Fadlan slowly learns the Northmen’s way of life. In the end, felt he “had been born a Northman” (p. 152), having spent much time in their company and is no longer the coward he was when he started the trip. His lack of knowledge causes him to be a coward in battle, since he will be battling frightening, mysterious creatures. A better proof of this is that the wendol acts as if they are animals, which are unintelligent. The wendol makes “a low grunting sound, like the rooting of a pig” (p. 97), “have hair as long as a hairy dog” (p. 99), and wear the heads of dead animals as masks. They act as if they were brainless and cannot think of ways of attack on the Northmen. The only thing they can think of when they are losing is to retreat. Their ignorance to provide more guards at the second entrance to the thunder cave give the Northmen easy access to kill their leader from the lack of defenses. The best proof of this is that the Northmen are the ones who have the knowledge and intelligence to defeat the wendol. They learn about the second entrance to the cave of thunder, where the mother of the wendol lives, and plan the attack to kill the mother wendol, with the help of the dwarves. It was because of their intelligence and knowledge that led them to victory. Crichton, through the the affects the different cultures have on each other, shows that having and applying knowledge preserves the existence of one’s culture. The wendol are a threat to the existence of the Northmen in Venden; hence, Buliwyf and his mighty warriors must battle them in order to preserve the future of their people. This conflict can only be won by the use of the knowledge the Northmen have learned. A good example of this is that although the Northmen are strong, at first they are unable to defeat the wendol have. The Northmen underestimate the number and strength of the wendol. The Northmen have much fewer warriors to fight than the wendol. The Northmen also have no defences against the wendol because King Rothgar forgot about them when he built his settlement on the cliff. The Northmen are not as physically strong as the wendol, and therefore they lost in battle, showing that physical strength is not enough to overcome an obstacle. A better example of this display is when the Northmen find a way to overcome the wendol. Although they were defeated on the battlefield, the Northmen defeat the wendol in a conflict on a higher level. This is the battle of intelligence. The Northmen acquire knowledge from the helpful dwarves in the caves of Venden, who aid them in killing the leader of the wendol. The death of their leader causes the wendol to become outraged, which leads them to...
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