The Wings of Fate

In the film Cast Away, Chuck Noland embarks on a unique journey in which his plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean and he washes up upon the shore of an island. Here, he finds packages washed ashore. He opens all except one and by the end of the movie he returns it to it’s original destination. My question is, what is the symbolism of the package and how does the director Robert Zemeckis tie this symbolism into other themes of the movie?

After surviving 4 years on the island, Chuck never opened the last package with a drawing of orange fluorescent wings on the front. This package was a sign of hope and resembled his own personal determination to survive. Flashback to the beginning of the movie, we see a Texas ranch with a sign that has the wings on it as well as “Dick Bettina.” This is where the package originally came from. I also believe Zemeckis used wings as the symbol on the package because wings represent transportation from place to place, as well as guardian angels. This package, although just a box with it’s contents never revealed, becomes a major pinnacle in Chuck’s survival. As seen when he is dropping off the package, he writes, “This package saved my life. Thank you. Chuck Noland” (2:13:38-2:13:48).

At the end of the film, Chuck ends up at the same crossroads where the movie began. However, now the name “Dick” has been removed from the arch at the front of the ranch. This represents the failure in the marriage between Bettina and Dick. It is at the same time Chuck has found out that his ex-fiancé, who thought he was dead, is now married with a child. Chuck meets Bettina coincidentally at the crossroads and as she’s driving away he notices the orange wings on the back of her truck. We as viewers are left to believe that these “wings” guided his fate throughout the movie, and now he is left with a decision, to follow the wings once more, or take another path.

23 thoughts on “The Wings of Fate

  1. Julia, I totally agree with you that the wings are a major theme in the movie. I feel like Chuck Noland purposely did not open that package with the wings on it because he was determined to deliver it. As you stated “This package saved my life. Thank you. Chuck Noland” (2:13:38-2:13:48). It saved his life because he wasn’t going to quit on his duty and not deliver the package. We also see the wings present on his boat that he creates out of branches. A big piece of plastic comes ashore and he uses that part as a sail for his boat. He draws the same pair of wings that was on the package on the plastic. I feel like he does this so it can serve as his guardian angels and protect him. I believe that the director of this film purposely did not have Chuck open the package so that we can imagine what was in it. Moreover, not only imagine what was in the box, but understand what it represented. It represents hope, fight, and perseverance. Chuck was stranded on an island for 4 years yet still was determined to get home.
    I also think the wings helped bring Chuck from a place of misery to a place of hope and purpose. At the very beginning of the movie the farm where the wings package came from had all dead grass and looked dull. However, when Chuck goes and delivers the package to the farm, it has luscious green grass. This shows the audience that there is purpose for Chuck and for the women he meets on his way back from delivering the package, Bettina, who we can assume is not married anymore.

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  2. Hey! I also have been wondering the symbolism for the last package as well. As much as we know about them, there isn’t a true connection between Chuck and that family except their interaction at the end. For me, the wings with some round rings could help us look at the deeper meaning. The wings reminded me of angel wings or wings that can help you fly. Also, it had writing with the word ‘Time.’ I think it was a way to convey the message that only time can open the doors. We saw that happen when Chuck used a metal board that cut through the waves. On the metal board, we could see that he painted the wings with the round rings on it.
    To further this discussion, why does Bettina have a dog in her truck? It sounds like a silly question but when Chuck meets her, we see her in a big truck and a dog in the back. I feel like it’s just a way to say she has a company but through a deeper lens, it’s something else. I think having the dog on the truck to allow the viewers to grow their attention(because they are cute). I also think it is a way to help focus on the back of the truck which has the symbol of the wings-the wings symbol that eventually saved Chuck’s life.

    • I would say the dog represents her being lonley, as she too is out in the middle of nowhere looking for a friend. She was able to do better than Wilson by getting a dog, but she still has the needs of someone to talk to or even cuddle with on a cold night.
      Perhaps there bye suggesting she is possibly ready for a relationship again.

  3. I was curious to know how Zemeckis used the theme of water to tell the story. Aside from the desert island iconography, water seemed to be his nemesis. It was disaster, elusive, and ever present. It took everything from him but it gave him everything at the same time. It was a deluge that brought him to the island; it was in the water where he shed his blood numerous times, it was a barrier that he overcame and completely mastered by the end of the film as he enjoyed it in ice form and chugged it in bottles. I think it is more symbolic than the package.

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