The Martian


Andy Weir

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The Martian: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Sol 376. Watney has finished the rover modifications to move in the “big three.” Sol 380. Watney makes a heat reservoir by sealing the RTG inside a bag, submerging it in water, and running air through the hot water. Sol 383. Watney has been studying a satellite map of Mars and planning his drive to Schiaparelli. He’ll go through the flat Acidalia, the more dangerous Arabia Terra, and then through the Mawrth Vallis valley before descending into Schiaparelli.
Watney’s log entries have become more sporadic, updating readers on his work every few days. Though this is partly a way for Weir to speed up the novel’s narrative, it also suggests that Watney is now more focused on his work (and on guaranteeing his survival and rescue) than he is on creating a record of that work for posterity.
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Sol 385. Watney starts designing a ‘bedroom” that he’ll attach to one of the rover’s airlocks using one of the pop-tents and canvas that he will cut from the Hab—it’ll give him enough space to stand up, move around, and stretch. Sol 387. Watney figures out exactly how much canvas he’ll need to cut form the Hab and sets aside five meal packs for special occasions: the day he leaves for Schiaparelli, the journey’s halfway point, the day he arrives, a reward for handling an emergency, and another for the day he launches. Sol 388. Watney depressurizes the Hab, cuts the canvas he needs for the ‘bedroom,’ glues the Hab back together, and re-pressurizes it. Sol 389. Watney assembles the ‘bedroom’ inside the Hab, where he doesn’t have to wear the EVA suit, then he rolls it up and takes it to the Rover, where he sets it up and tests it briefly. He’ll run an overnight test later.
The fact that Watney is designing a bedroom suggests that he feels confident that he has more than enough time to prepare for his journey to Schiaparelli. He doesn’t really need a bedroom—instead, it’s an amenity that will make his journey more comfortable and convenient. And, if Watney has time to spare, it seems likely that he’d rather spend that time designing a bedroom and working out ways to execute the design than sitting around. Watney doesn’t like having time to think or get emotional, so building the bedroom may be a manifestation of this coping mechanism.
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Sol 390. The rover is fully prepared for the trip to Shiaparelli, leaving Watney with 59 sols to run extra tests. He reflects on the fact that, though he desperately wants to leave Mars, the idea of leaving the Hab and trekking alone to the MAV is frightening.
Now that the rover is fully prepared, Watney has time to reflect. His thoughts frighten him. Once again, Watney shows that he deals with fear by repressing his emotions.
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