If there were one story that stuck with me the most, it would have to be Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Not only was it our last read for the course and the freshest in my mind, but also the most thrilling. For my final project, I chose to recreate the setting of The First Colony. We’ve talked about the importance of the Walls and the Lights for the members of the colony in many of our blog posts, so it is only fitting to imagine how that community would look like. I chose to map out The First Colony because it was so interesting to read about how life goes on in the middle of an apocalypse. Enclosed behind towering walls is a little world of The Colony, full of life and safe from the Virals.
The beginning of Section Four: All Eyes includes somewhat of a map of the First Colony, yet it didn’t have much dimension. I decided to give my interpretation of the map and of the information given in the novel. Now, I am in no ways an artist, but I wanted to have fun with it and let the ideas roll along. In my drawing, I wanted to capture the image of the Walls as best as I could. I gave it a very rustic feel, to show its age over time. Yet, because The Walls were so important to the people, I displayed the watchtowers, above the walls in which The Watch, like Peter and Alicia could stand guard. “The platform on which [Peter] stood— one of fifteen distributed along the catwalk that ringed the top of the Wall— was known as Firing Platform One” (Cronin 310). Peter’s view of the Wall shows how precise everything is. I wanted to make sure that I included the platform through these kinds of watchtowers, because essentially, “looking out” was the Watch’s duty.
The Lights were the next most important thing to the Colony. I placed high-beam lights surrounding the walls and in the corners, to reflect how important it was to fill the entire setting. “Five meters square, it was edged by an overhanging net of cabled steel. To Peter’s left, rising another thirty meters, stood one of the twelve light assemblies, rows of sodium-vapor bulbs in a grid…” (Cronin 310). I specifically put boxed lighting to stay as close to the novel’s description of the lights. In mapping out the lights, I pictured a sort of football field, where the whole stadium is illuminated.
I really wanted to capture what was inside of the Walls and how the Colony was able to survive. So, I included livestock, some shops, and the sheds that housed both armory and other goods. A very important part of the Colony was The Sanctuary. I wanted to show how the exterior of the institution was as closed off as possible. There are no openings, beside the entryway because the novel mentions its “bricked in windows” (Cronin 311). I placed the Sanctuary in a father corner than the original map, to reflect that kind of isolation the children had to experience while spending their first eight years there.
I think that the transfer of a textual description into a visual one is very important. Sometimes, reading about a place is simply not enough. In a visual image of a setting, we are able to get a better sense of how the characters would interact with their surroundings. Also, we are able to see images on a larger scale. The best example of this is the visualization of the Wall. We get a sense that they are very tall and impenetrable by the Virals, but we also forget how long they are in surrounding the actual Colony. From the birds-eye-view of a map, we not only get one perspective but the entire collection of elements found in the setting.
Transforming the text into an image is not an easy task. Of course, reading allows you to re-imagine and interpret elements on your own, however we need to also respect the author’s creation. I wanted to stay as close to the text and physical description I was provided about the Colony and the Walls. Cronin’s First Colony is a special place and vital to the novel. To drastically change it, would also mean changing the tone of the book. I was able to exercise my creativity within the boundaries of the novel.