Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Noor Al-Hakim's Senior Art Thesis

Margot  Livesy

Noor  Al-Hakim 
Biosphere 2 in Historical Context

Margot Livesey: The Hardships of Childhood and Their Influence on Adulthood

Margot Livesey criticizes the effects of continuing childish habits into adult lives. Her characters’ relationships, whether familial, platonic or romantic, exemplify this problem. In The House on Fortune Street, Livesey portrays the negative effects of childhood and their influence on one’s adult life. Dara’s family fell apart when she was ten years old. Divorce can be very difficult for young children to overcome, which can affect their adult lives. It is evident that Dara struggles with her adult relationships when Livesey points out, “Now she understood why her relationships with other men have broken down. Although she had pretended to be, wanted to be, she hadn’t really been in love with them. Her deepest self had always been hanging back, reluctant to fully engage… her feelings did make a difference.” (191). Through characterization of personal situations, Livesey shows that people can grow up, even if it is later in life than it should be. Most of Livesey’s characters move past their childish behavior communicating to the reader that if one does learns to deal with the difficult situations that life brings, then that person will make progress.

Living in a closed environment for two years presented difficult psychological and physical challenges for the crew members of Biosphere 2. Eight crew members lived in Biosphere 2 for two years, undergoing intense training prior to joining the project. The experiment studied people in a sustainable life support system and promised to yield important data for future space missions and for environmentalism. Russians first coined the idea of Biosphere 2 when scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky imagined humans building self-sustaining “space green houses” in the nineteenth century. Later, in the twentieth century, Russians invested heavily in space exploration. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, officially beginning the space race with the United States. The information gathered from Biosphere 2 could be applied to future space travel and colonization. Data from the project was used for research and to meet economic, social, and environmental goals. This example of a sustainable life support system greatly influenced the environmental movement and the future of space travel.

Major Works Consulted:

Livesey, Margot. House on Fortune Street. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.
---. The Missing World. New York: Picador, 1999.
Bond, Peter. The Continuing Story of the International Space Station. New York: Praxis, 2002.
Poynter, Jane. The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2. New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 2006.
Photo Credit: Thompson, Clifford, ed. World Authors 1990-1995. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1999.