Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Charles Darwin, Arthur S. Gregor takes a complicated scientific principle, the theory of evolution by natural selection, and turns it into an effective history and science lesson. The book is divided into three major parts and includes notes, a list of sources for further reading, and a chronological table. The first part of the book, “Voyage,” briefly covers Darwin’s early unsuccessful school life, his conflict with his demanding father, and his dilemma in choosing a career. Dr. Robert Darwin wanted his son to follow him in a medical career. Darwin rebelled and halfheartedly settled on the study of theology, in part to please his father. Charles Darwin explores Darwin’s childhood fascination with living things and his persistent efforts to collect, study, and identify various strains of beetles. Darwin was a disinterested and poor student who remained in boarding school only because his father commanded much respect from the headmasters.

The main substance of the biography begins in chapter 4 and continues throughout the second part of the book, entitled “Discovery.” Darwin begins his life-changing voyage as a naturalist on the HMS Beagle in 1831. An opportunity arises for him to sail to South America, and his father reluctantly agrees to assist Darwin with his pursuits. Darwin joins the crew as a naturalist assigned to collect specimens as the ship charts the coast of South America. Captain Robert Fitzroy, a...

(The entire section is 582 words.)