According to those infected, the most powerful effects of the Clay’s Ark disease are it’s compulsions. The heightened survival instincts and the need to infect others haunts the members of the secluded ranch and eventually the Maslin family as well. Throughout the novel these characters describe the microorganism as completely non-human, but maybe they are overlooking some crucial connections between themselves and the virus.
Drive reduction theory is a motivational theory that attempts to explain why we as human feel the desire to preform or behave in certain ways. The theory states that humans act in ways to reduce drives, such as eating to reduce the feeling of hunger, and returns the body to homeostasis, the steady internal state.
We many times speak of the microorganism with the idea of it’s differences in mind, but I feel that its important to take into account the similarities between it and humanity.
Through the way the characters speak, it may appear as though the microorganism’s drive is much stronger than ours, but is it? Humans have done some pretty amazing things all in the name of motivation. An example is Aron Ralston, who cut off his own arm after it got stuck under a boulder in a hiking accident. His body drove him survival and he took the extreme measures to get there. How is that any different from Eli, as he walked miles and miles after Clay’s ark crashed to find water and food?
Although Eli is the longest to be infected, he seems to be the one who treats the being as the most inhuman. He repeatedly tells Blake that he won’t understand the feeling of wanting to contaminate others until the organism manifests entirely in him. But I think that Eli is ignoring his humanity in the face of an alien. We all have the potential to reach extremes inside of us right now. it just takes an equally as extreme situation to motivate us to act. Just look at Blake’s acts to protect his family. The big escape from the farm house was brought on by the big fear of being infected and having to live out a life they don’t want. The reader sees the emotional dive here, but it is always been in Blake’s character since the beginning. In the very beginning of the book we see the fear of being blown off the road by a wind storm bringing him to pull over on the high way. This is minor in comparison to all the other events, but still he has a goal to protect his family and he will do whatever it takes in the given situation.
Over the course of reading Clay’s Ark, the class has had many discussions about how nonhuman the organism is. It may physically act in ways never before seen to this planet, but sometimes there is more hidden underneath.