Going Back for Jonesy

You all know Jonesy right? The ships cat in Alien? Ellen Ripley defies all sense of personal survival, sacrificing time and manoeuvrability to go back for the cat. Taking a pure survivalist view on this, it’s stupid. Seriously who risks their life for a mog? Ripley is facing impregnation by face hugger and death by chestbuster or a straight death by slathering monster by going back, but she does, she even puts the carrier down to do stuff, then goes back and picks it up again. It’s nuts. It’s suicide! It’s not what you do in a life or death, time is of the essence situation.

Except it is really isn’t it. We’ve all seen pictures of people in the floods carrying pets above their heads through the flood water, people trying to go back in to burning houses to rescue the family pooch and how many of us feel it’s an entirely appropriate use of the fire services time and resources to rescue cats from trees (clue, I do, totally). This is in the job description for british fire fighters ‘rescuing people and animals from disasters such as fires, floods, or terrorist attacks’. Seriously, terrorist attacks, never mind the children, get the damn cat!

It’s been on my mind for a long time… why does Ripley go back for Jonesy? Why is it that all my anxiety about a break in or my having an accident is based around what if the cats get hurt, or don’t get fed. How long can they cope if I don’t come home? Will my neighbour with a key call in if I’m missing? When I was ill recently my fever had me awake at three am worrying about whether there was an escape route for them if I actually did have a zombie virus and turned in the house. If I’d had a jigsaw (the tool not the puzzle) I think I’d have woken again on the kitchen floor with a hole in the bottom of the door.

So why do we do it? Well Dana sums it up nicely in Plague Town, if you want to live forget the pet, if you want to live with yourself, go back for the cat.

Our humanity is tied up in how we treat the people and things dependant on us for our well being and really, what is the point of surviving the apocalypse if we forget what it means to be human?

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