“Two students of economics who wore scruffier clothes than the rest, as if to show that they were still socialists.”
The group which boards the flight is not entirely drawn from the same socio-economic background. The “two students of economics” want to visibly demonstrate that they are not a part of the wealthy land-owning class like many of the other passengers. Uruguay has a complicated history with class struggle, and the two scruffy-clothed socialists indicate another problem which the survivors of the plane crash will have to navigate.
“Inside the passenger compartment there was a holiday atmosphere.”
The passengers laugh and joke with one another as the pilots begin to worry. The weather and the difficult terrain present a serious challenge to any plane crossing over the Andes, but the passengers do not think twice about the danger. They are on holiday. The trip is a chance to enjoy themselves. The holiday atmosphere quickly turns into a nightmare, and the jubilant mood at the beginning of the flight provides a point of contrast showing how quickly the situation can change.
“The night was unending.”
The first night after the crash is one of the most difficult. The survivors are all dazed, disorientated, and anxious, and many are severely wounded. They do not yet have the systems in place to deal with the extreme cold that the night brings.