assignment: write a brief essay in which you use the above image (photograph by Kevin Carter) to form a "thesis on life"
In life, there are two archetypal characters that all sentient beings within the known world adhere to: the fighter and the forfeiter. These two motivational outlooks in life are polar opposites in essence and nature. Each being, human or otherwise, has within them the innate inclination towards these two points, which is the catalyst to their ultimate surrender or perseverance, fight or forfeit, life or death. These two paradigms are superbly shown in their fundamental form in a moving photograph by Kevin Carter. The photograph shows these two ends of the spectrum successfully with its two main elements: the baby and the bird.
Within the frames of Carter’s image, the bird represents the “fighter” archetype. In the everlasting challenge that is life, the fighter is always alert and ready for opportunity. It is defined by its motivation to succeed in all elements of survival and life. The bird in the photograph exemplifies this attitude perfectly in just its stance alone. It is rigid, awaiting the opportunity that could arise in the actions of the child in the foreground. The child could potentially be any number of benefits to the bird; prey or friend, and the bird’s obvious careful observance is what shows the fighter model within it. A fighter in life will take advantage of all its environment has to offer. And the bird is set to do this in the photography. A fighter is not one to let such benefits pass them by, and in the photographs simple instance of a bird surveying an event, this “fighter” theme is echoed in it’s basic form.
The child featured in Carter’s photograph is a perfect model of forfeit and utter defeat. This tiny, crumpled form displays the “forfeiter” spirit, or lack of spirit, rather. It’s small, beaten and starved body is showing an absolute conquered soul, one that has given up all hope of survival or motivation. In life, the pessimistic nature of the “forfeiter” causes them to find themselves beaten down by the world around them and makes them surrender all will to endure or fight as their opposites do. They lose all optimism and hope. In Carter’s photograph, the tiny child is quite obviously devoid of any hope, as his head is cast downward in the dry earth. Within the photograph, context completely unknown, it is ambiguous whether the child still lives or has lost all life within itself. But either way, it is clear that the child is nearing the end and has lost the will to continue living, as a “fighter” like the bird would.
The two models shown in Carter’s photograph, each representing differing spirits of life and motivation, exemplify the basic fundamentals of all existence. That there are two paradigms of human nature: the “fighter” and the “forfeiter”. Through the two simple figures shown in the photograph, is seen that these two archetypes are essential and elemental.
...not bad considering I spent a half hour on this at best. And my conlusion is absolute crap. But c'est la vie.