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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Martin Eden by Jack London is about the title character, Martin, and his struggles to become a successful author. He grows up poor towards the beginning of the 20th century in the area of Oakland, California.

Class is a big part of the book, and you’d be hard-pressed to write anything general about the book without mentioning it. A big motivator for Martin that pushes him through the plot is his interest in a woman named Ruth Morse. Her family is well-off, and she’s even described as being one of the “bourgeois”-or member of the more wealthy class- as opposed to Martin, who’s from the “proletariat” working class.

Martin wants to marry Ruth, but can’t because of the class differences. He tries to break into the literary world for two years, but eventually his great love grows tired of waiting and leaves. This class conflict is at the heart of the novel, and it will likely work best if you focus your efforts in your assignment on how class drives the plot of the book. This includes when Martin was poor and unsuccessful, while he was attempting to win over Ruth, and how he reacts afterward.

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