How does the setting of Woodsong contribute to the story's conflict?

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Woodsong is a book of memoirs written by Gary Paulsen and published in 1990. The memoirs are probably set between 1979 and 1983. The first half of the book tells of Paulsen’s time running sled dogs in Minnesota. The second half of the book details his time taking part in the thousand-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.

The memoirs are primarily set in the woods and the Alaskan wilderness. Paulsen has admitted that he did not realize how frightening the woods could truly be until he was forty years old. Taking part in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race saw him spend seventeen days traveling across the harsh Alaskan wilderness. During this time, he passed The Burn, The Yukon River, and the Bering Sea. The Alaskan wilderness is a bleak and unwelcoming place, and the conflict of the book involves the raw realities of nature in this setting and Paulsen’s survival.

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Woodsong by Gary Paulsen centers itself in two main locations.  Paulsen begins the first part of the book by reflecting on his life in northern Minnesota.  The rest of the novel takes place in Alaska.  Specifically, it follows Paulsen's 17-day account of his Iditarod competition.  

Knowing that the book is taking place in Alaska immediately alerts the reader to a book that is likely to be about difficult wilderness situations.  This, coupled with the knowledge that Paulsen is writing about one of the most difficult race competitions in the world, lets the reader know that conflicts will arise.  The race itself goes through the Alaskan wilderness and is run solo, with just the musher and his team.  That means the conflicts of the story are more than likely to be man vs. self and man vs. nature than man vs. man.

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