Jack London’s Alaska: The Land of the Midnight Sun. Jack London: 1876-1916. Born into extreme poverty in San Francisco Left home at age 11 Spent his youth travelling to places he had read about, working odd jobs to feed himself
Jack London: 1876-1916 • Born into extreme poverty in San Francisco • Left home at age 11 • Spent his youth travelling to places he had read about, working odd jobs to feed himself • In 1897, he headed north to Alaska’s Yukon Territory with 100,000 others hoping to strike it rich.
The Klondike Gold Rush • The US had been hard hit by recent economic instability and labor problems. Unemployment was high. • 1896, large amounts of gold were found in the Yukon Territory of Alaska. • Hundreds of thousands of desperate people flocked north, hoping to become rich. They were completely unprepared for what they found there.
The Yukon Territory As you can see from this modern satellite image of the area, it’s quite rugged and inhospitable. Predictably, many more people died or left empty-handed than became rich.
Dyea, ChilkootPass,and Skagway Alaska Unlike Dyea, Skagway still exists and thrives today. The Gold Rush is a celebrated part of local culture. Dyea was a mining town, but it no longer exists. The Chilkoot pass is the only way through the Boundary Range Mountains and into Dyea and Skagway. The pass claimed many lives during the Gold Rush
The Mighty Yukon River The Yukon “River” is actually a system of rivers and tributaries. The land around the rivers is boggy and muddy in the summer, and frozen solid in the winter. The Yukon and its tributaries involve a massive area that cuts through southern Alaska. Even today, much of the surrounding area is impassible. Despite the lethal cold, the river sees more traffic in the winter, when it’s frozen solid and can be used as a road.
Jack London’s “Gold” Q. What did Jack London find in Alaska? A. Snow Cold Malnourishment Scurvy (he lost 4 teeth!) Frostbite A Near Death Experience Inspiration* * Once he gave up on gold, he returned to sunny, warm California and nursed himself back to health. Then he started writing. He became rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams.
London’s Legacy • The Call of the Wild • The Sea-Wolf • White Fang • “To Build a Fire” • Naturalism: • Portrays humans struggling against insurmountable forces, usually nature or fate. • Humans are weak compared to nature & cannot win. • There is honor and dignity in fighting the good fight, even if you lose. (The fight matters more than the end result) • Conflict: Man vs. Nature (external); Man vs. Self (internal)