To Build a Fire by Jack London

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Try closely observing nature. Look very closely at leaves, grass, birds, plants, the sky, etc. What do you see, and how does it make you feel? Use all of your senses when you investigate nature and see what you learn that you did not know before.

2. What do you know about the Klondike gold rush? Look up stories and information about that gold rush and other gold rushes. Why do people go to gold rushes? What makes them think they will become rich? Why do some people think being rich is so important?

3. London was a Socialist. What was the socialist movement about? Why would anyone become a Socialist? Is socialism still alive today?

4. The dog in the story is characterized as being a step away from a wolf. What are the differences between dogs and wolves? What is the situation of wild wolves today? What about coyotes, Australian dingo dogs, and other wild dogs?

5. Look up Darwin's theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Can these theories logically be applied to societies of people? What characteristics have evolved in people to allow them to survive? Can people from advanced countries survive in difficult terrain without any technology? What problems would they have to solve? Do people rely on technology too much?

6. Look up literary naturalism and examine its major characteristics. How can these ideas be applied to modern life? Why is naturalism considered to be pessimistic?

7. What were the working conditions in nineteenth-century factories? Why did London go to England to see the working and living conditions of the poor there? What lessons does the history of early industrialization have for developing countries today?

8. Why are the Arctic and Antarctica so cold? What are the scientific reasons for this phenomenon? Is there any way to warm them up? What would be the benefits and drawbacks of warming them?

9. London's books are extremely popular in Russia. Why do the Russians like these books so much? What conditions in Russia might make Russian readers identify with London's characters?