A Hero Built on More Than Just Brawn
Clive Cussler is known for writing fast paced spy/mystery novels that have complex plots with memorable characters. He is perhaps best known for his creation of a character named Dirk Pitt. In one of Dirk Pitt’s many adventure stories, Cyclops, Pitt must find a connection between a secret settlement on the moon, the disappearance of a blimp, as well as a mythical hidden treasure that is supposedly on a sunken ship. Dirk Pitt is one of the most charismatic heroes in the adventure/thriller genre of novels not only because he is able to overcome nearly impossible obstacle through his toughness and knowledge, but also because he has both a unique lifestyle and personality.
Through Pitt’s toughness and bravery, he is able to accomplish things that others might not even think of as being possible. Prior to Cyclops, Pitt does amazing things such as raising the Titanic and saving the president’s life. In Cyclops, Pitt is able to use his incredible strength to muscle his way past several Cuban security guards and military members single-handedly on his way to escaping a high security Russian military base where he was held hostage. He also shows bravery and courage when he breaks back in and rescues several of his friends who were also taken captive. Pitt is always portrayed throughout the book as being above the rest, almost to the point of being a superhero. The things Pitt does and the manner in which he does them seem at times like stories one reads about in a fantasy novel. Yet, everything else in the plot is reasonably realistic in terms of what people are physically capable of doing and Pitt is the only character who stands out in terms of ability. Pitt’s larger than life strength helps the author to be able to write about a more entertaining and challenging conflict so the novel is more popular, as he knows that he has created a character that is able to deal with the situation.
Another way that Pitt is able to solve Cussler’s complex conflicts is that he always thinks things out and uses his knowledge, even during stressful times. In one scene, hundreds of men are searching frantically for a nuclear bomb designed to destroy Havana while Pitt remains calm and makes a shocking discovery. ‘‘‘You overestimated the Russians’ grandstand tactics and underestimated their cunning,’ said Pitt. ‘There is no nuclear bomb on any of those ships. For what they plan to do, they don’t need one’” (403). By thinking the situation through, and using his observations, he is able to come to this conclusion and also able to use his knowledge to think of a clever plan to track down the real threat to Cuba. Pitt is the only man out of several military specialists that had the wisdom to make this discovery. It is easy to come to the conclusion that Pitt is at a whole different level of intellect then everybody else and is again almost like a super human. Pitt seems almost relied upon by the entire United States Military to save the day for them while they pretend to be helpful.
Pitt’s interesting lifestyle is best described by two things: a description of his home, and his obsession with cars. Pitt lives in an old aircraft hangar that appears deserted from the outside. However, after Pitt uses several complex voice activated gadgets to deactivate a security system, a huge garage with over three dozen cars and other big toys such as a freight train are revealed. There is also a spiral staircase that leads upstairs to his apartment. Most readers remember vividly Pitt’s home layout simply because it is so different than where a stereotypical spy might live, or even where anybody lives. In contrast, one would likely forget a description of another character’s home because compared to Pitt’s it is boring and unoriginal. Pitt’s car collection is more than just a hobby, but an obsession, as in one case Pitt’s excuse about not attending a meeting is that he “has to doctor a sick car”(59). Pitt does not treat his cars like machines, but more like humans, almost even like they were his children, and although other spy’s sometimes take care of maybe one or two cars, Pitt maintains almost forty and treats them all with equal devotion. After the reader understands Pitt’s lifestyle and passion, he or she can laugh at what a crazy guy Pitt is. They love reading about him because they can’t wait to see what quirky fact they might learn about him next.
Pitt’s sense of humor is a valuable tool used by Cussler to make Pitt seem lifelike and lovable which also lightens the mood in tight times. His sense of humor is sarcastic, which tends to annoy other characters, but makes the audience laugh out loud at his clever remarks and backhanded compliments. With jokes like Pitt’s, not only is the book exciting and suspenseful, but it is also humorous and brings more life into Pitt and the story in general. Even in times of distress and grief, Pitt is able to maintain a light mood and crack a joke. While he was being tortured and questioned in Cuba, he says to a Russian general, ‘‘‘What do you want me to confess to, attempting the assassinate Fidel Castro or plotting to convert Russian advisers to democrats”’ (197). Because of the frequent humorous interjections, Cussler makes the suspenseful parts in the plot seem more powerful because there is the contrast between the humorous and exciting events. Pitt’s overall personality and humor make Cyclops a much more enjoyable book to read.
Clive Cussler is the mastermind between all the twist and turns of Cyclops. This complex plot presented a conflict that only one man could solve, and Cussler is brilliant in creating that character as an insanely brave and strong man. He also made the right decision by making that character’s personality and lifestyle bizarre, but memorable and interesting. That character is named Dirk Pitt.