Understanding The Call of the Wild: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding The Call of the Wild: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding The Call of the Wild: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding The Call of the Wild: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

London's adventure tale The Call of the Wild explores the complex relationships between man and nature, and animals' struggle with their own nature in man's world. In this interdisciplinary study, a rich collection of primary documents point out the many issues that make this story as poignant and pertinent today as when it was written nearly a century ago. Compiled here for the first time is documentation from sources as varied as century-old newspaper accounts, legislative materials, advertisements, poetry, journals, and other startling firsthand accounts. The story's historical setting, the Yukon Gold Rush, is brought vividly into focus for readers, with firsthand accounts of the unimaginable hardships faced by the prospectors in the Klondike and Alaskan Gold Fields.

Excerpt

Jack London, an illegitimate child born in San Francisco in 1876 and reared in poverty across the bay in Oakland, California, had become the highest-paid, most widely read, and best-known writer in America by the time he was thirty-seven years old. In part, London achieved such tremendous popularity because he was the quintessential American adventurer, a westerner living in a country that culturally thrived on and was identified with exploration of unknown territory. He lived an adventurous life and then used events from his own life as fodder for his profession as a writer. At the early age of fifteen, he bought a small boat and embarked on an illegal and dangerous career as an "oyster pirate," raiding other men's lucrative oyster beds in San Francisco Bay. Then he joined the other side of the law in an equally hazardous job, helping the California Fish Patrol capture commercial fishermen plying their trade illegally in the bay. At seventeen, he signed on as an able-bodied seaman for a perilous seven-month seal-hunting expedition in the Pacific Ocean, a journey that took him to Hawaii, Siberian Russia, and Japan, where he and the rest of the crew almost lost their lives in a treacherous typhoon. In 1894, at eighteen, he hoboed across the country, on foot and in boxcars, as part of a social protest by a group of unemployed men who called themselves "Kelly's Army." Passing through Erie County, Ohio, on this . . .

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