The Martian

Themes and Colors
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
Solitude and the Human Need for Connection Theme Icon
The Betrayal of the Familiar Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Martian, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Betrayal of the Familiar Theme Icon

Stuck alone on Mars for far longer than intended, Watney finds himself in an inhospitable environment where, unlike on Earth, his body is not designed to survive. Naturally, Watney comes to rely on technology to keep himself alive, such as the Hab, the rovers, and EVA suits. While this technology keeps him alive, its very strength conceals two dangers: First, the technologies’ apparent reliability allows Watney to fall into a series of familiar routines that mask just how different, and dangerous, Mars is for him. Second, because the technology is so helpful, it is easy for Watney to underestimate how vulnerable the technology is to damage, and to forget just how dependent he is on this technology in order to survive.

In fact, Watney faces many of the novel’s greatest challenges when he fails to account for the differences between the Earth and the Martian environment, or when a seemingly minor mistake damages his equipment. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Watney’s nearly disastrous attempt to make water by separating hydrogen gas out from hydrazine fuel. During the process, Watney inadvertently leaves enough hydrogen in the air to risk an explosion. While removing the hydrogen from the air, he nearly suffocates by inhaling too much nitrogen. He then pulls on an oxygen mask, but, when he exhales, he adds enough oxygen into the air to cause an explosion in the Hab. Breathing oxygen and exhaling a combination of oxygen and carbon dioxide is, on earth, the most natural thing in the world. Yet on Mars, in the Hab, oxygen is dangerous—the very things Watney needs to survive could kill him.

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The Betrayal of the Familiar ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of The Betrayal of the Familiar appears in each Chapter of The Martian. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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The Betrayal of the Familiar Quotes in The Martian

Below you will find the important quotes in The Martian related to the theme of The Betrayal of the Familiar.
Chapter 6 Quotes

Today was the memorial service for Mark Watney. The President had given a speech, praising Watney’s bravery and sacrifice, and the quick actions of Commander Lewis in getting everyone else to safety […] The administrator had given a speech as well, reminding everyone that space flight is incredibly dangerous, and that we will not back down in the face of adversity.

Related Characters: Mark Watney, Venkat Kapoor, Teddy Sanders, The President
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

“The edge of the storm isn’t a magic line. It’s just an area where the dust gets a little more dense. […] It’ll be really subtle; every day will be slightly darker than the last. Too subtle to notice.” Venkat sighed. “He’ll go hundreds of kilometers, wondering why his solar panel efficiency is going down, before he notices any visibility problems. And the storm is moving west as he moves east. He’ll be too deep in to get out.”

Related Characters: Venkat Kapoor (speaker), Cathy Warner (speaker), Mark Watney
Related Symbols: The Dust Storm
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

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