Martin Eden (1909) is a novel by American author Jack London, about a struggling young writer. This book is a favorite among writers, who relate to Martin Eden's speculation that when he mailed off a manuscript, 'there was no human editor at the other end, but a mere cunning arrangement of cogs that changed the manuscript from one envelope to another and stuck on the stamps,' returning it automatically with a rejection slip. While some readers believe there is some resemblance between them, an important difference between Jack London and Martin Eden is that Martin Eden rejects socialism (attacking it as 'slave morality'), and relies on a Nietzschean individualism. In a note to Upton Sinclair, Jack London wrote, "One of my motifs, in this book, was an attack on individualism (in the person of the hero). I must have bungled, for not a single reviewer has discovered it." (From feedbooks.com)
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Clearly this character is feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. Which of the following sentences does not support that notion.
We just read a clue that this man is a sailor because his clothes, "smacked of the sea." Here is another clue: His legs are used to the rolling motion of the sea. Keep this is mind as you read this chapter. What qualities do you associate with a sailor?
From this paragraph, what can we infer about the young man?
Whitechapel is a poor neighborhood in East London. The women Mr. Eden encountered here are the "gin-bloated hags" to which he refers. (This annotation contains an image)
This is a reference to an epic poem by John Swinburne titled "Tristram of Lyonesse." Below is a painting of the medieval lovers, Tristram and Iseult. (This annotation contains an image)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
The title of this novel is Martin Eden, so this must be Mr. Eden. The beautiful girl that Mr. Eden is so immediately impressed with is Ruth, Arthur's sister.
What word would Mr. Eden use to describe Ruth, especially in how she relates to the other women he has known?
What else do we learn about Mr. Eden from his memory of the fight with the Mexican on the beach?
Probably without realizing, Mr. Eden has slipped into his regular dialect and vernacular of the sea. Dialect is a regional or social variety of language that may differ from others by pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. Everyone knows what a Southern accent is compared to a New York accent, but dialect is not just different accents. Dialects often use different words. For example, in the South people say "soda" or "soft drink," and in the Northeast people may say "pop."
Ruth is a little afraid of and repulsed by him, but she is also ________________ Mr.Eden.
Mr. Eden has thought briefly before of his time in Japan. This memory, brought to him by Ruth's laughter, is clearly of Japan with the reference to the pagodas, cherry blossoms, and straw sandals. (This annotation contains an image)
The writer uses a great deal of figurative language. Figurative language is found in all types of writing. It helps readers understand things, events, and people in unique ways. It's important to be able to recognize the different types of figurative language. Watch this video for a review and see how many types of figurative language you already know. (This annotation contains a video)
Although this character is really a sailor, he is speaking figuratively now. What type of figurative language is used here?
Ladies' fashion in London in the early 1900's would have resembled the clothing in the picture below. Of course, the social class one belonged to made all the difference. Ruth's family is clearly upper class. (This annotation contains an image)
Who do you think is Her? Why is the word "her" capitalized?
The forecastle is where the sailors sleep and eat on a ship. (This annotation contains an image)
The main purpose of this long paragraph is to show how uncomfortable the young sailor is feeling at this dinner table. He doesn't understand when and what utensil to use. He has to watch what he says and respond to the servant who obviously keeps approaching him at the table with questions that Mr. Eden has no idea how to answer. For example, the servant must have asked about a finger bowl which is used to wash your hands between courses. Here you see a finger bowl with a lemon and a rose petal. These are used to freshen the fingers. (This annotation contains an image)
This is important. We finally have the first name of our protagonist, Martin Eden. The narrator has just informed us that Arthur, the friend of Martin's and the brother of Ruth, told his family that he was bringing home a "wild man." We also have found out that Martin must have helped Arthur out of some fight.
The narrator tells us that Martin is "by nature a man of powerful thought and sensibility." Give an example from what you've read so far that supports that Martin is a man of thought and creativity.
"Kanaka" is a term for a worker from the Pacific Islands where British colonies were located.
Martin is explaining how he helped Arthur out of a fight.
This reveals what quality about Martin Eden, our protagonist?
Martin Eden, although uneducated, is a talented storyteller. He is retelling stories of his sea adventures to the listeners at dinner.
In other words, Martin Eden rocks her world!
Consider the point of view of the text. Hopefully, you have determined that this novel has an outside narrator, or third-person narrator, since none of the characters are telling the story. We also know what Martin has been thinking from the beginning of the novel. Now we are getting thoughts from Ruth, the girl Martin longs to win over. Watch the video on the different types of point of view. Then try to determine the type of third-person narrator we have in this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Here the writer uses a metaphor several times to show the differences that separate Martin and Ruth. For a clue, look at the picture by clicking on the link, then choose what word is used to represent that difference that separates these two young people.http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1020015!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landsca...
The writer uses a great deal of imagery whenever he describes Martin's memory and thoughts of the places he has visited. Martin Eden has a vivid imagination and a talent for recalling details. Watch this video which describes imagery. Then look for several examples of imagery in this paragraph. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Ruth give Martin when he leaves her house?
Martin Eden is walking on air. He is both elated and exhilarated after his evening with Arthur's mother, brothers, and sister. Meeting Ruth has changed him; he's never thought of a girl in this way before, as something pure and supremely beautiful. She's even made him believe in immortality and the soul's existence after life on earth.
To show how "swept away" Martin is after meeting Ruth, the writer's phrases are lyrical and filled with figurative language. What sound device does the highlighted text exemplify?
In your own words, describe the difference between the knowledge Martin possesses and the knowledge these male students have. Which one do you think is more valuable? Explain your answer.
The city of Berkeley is in California near San Francisco. The University of California at Berkeley today is rated the top public university in the world. (This annotation contains an image)
Clearly, Martin does not think highly of his brother-in-law, Bernard Higginbotham. List at least three words or phrases that show Martin's contempt for this man.
Chromolithography was a method used to make multi-colored prints that was developed in the 19th century. Martin is looking at this picture that perhaps he once admired, but now he sees how cheap it is compared to the real paintings he saw at Arthur's house. Even cheaper chromos were used for advertisements. Below is a picture of a chromo around this time. (This annotation contains an image)
Bernard is mispronouncing the word "debauchery," which means overindulgence, usually of alcohol and in a sinful way.
This is more support that Bernard Higginbotham is exactly like Martin thinks he is, a _______________.
Discuss Bernard Higginbotham as a character. He doesn't seem to have any good qualities -- at least not so far. Be sure to refer to details from this chapter in your description.
The narrator is telling us that Martin Eden has something that attracts women. Apparently, women have always flocked to him, but he's never given them any serious thought, and he's never met a woman who made him want to better himself until now. Ruth is different from all the other women he has known.
Try to visualize the main character, Martin Eden, based on what you've read so far. Surely you've seen the illustration on the cover of this curriculet. Below is another illustrator's depiction of what Martin Eden may look like. (This annotation contains an image)
Wow. He's never brushed his teeth before? This small detail indicates the time period of this novel. Dental hygiene was not a priority at this time, especially among the lower class. The first American toothbrush hit the market around 1885. And the regular act of brushing your teeth didn't take off in the U.S. until after World War II, when soldiers brought back the healthy habit. Below is an early wooden toothbrush of the early 1900's. (This annotation contains an image)
During this time, women like Gertrude washed clothes by hand with a washboard. (This annotation contains an image)
Opium, which is used in drugs like morphine and heroin, comes from the poppy flower. Here the narrator is comparing the wildness of Martin's dreams to the "madness" of a drug addict. (This annotation contains an image)
Most of the time in fiction, the protagonist is a character that the reader likes and that the reader relates to. Martin Eden is very likable so far. He's strong, loyal, kind, respectful, generous. Watch the video on protagonists and antagonists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLNsR7pzatM&list=PLFCb6LtU-qa2ntWimC960RY3xNib7cGng&index=5Give at least two examples of Martin's actions that support his likable character.
Temescal is a neighborhood in Oakland, California.
This story from Jim about Maggie helps characterize Martin even more. It adds more evidence that the ladies are naturally attracted to Martin Eden.
In your own words, explain what Martin is saying here. What is his explanation for why all the women want him over other men?
John William Norrie was a mathematician and was famous for his navigational charts of the sea. (This annotation contains an image)
You can see the crease in the mens' pants in this picture. (This annotation contains an image)
List three things Martin is doing differently so as to be worthy of Ruth one day.
This is a powerful image of Martin's low class trying to keep him down. What type of figurative language is used here?
The two girls Martin is speaking with may have been dressed similarly to the girls in this picture. They are poor, working class girls. (This annotation contains an image)
What words best describe how Martin feels about his social class?
Use the Define feature on the words "fallow" and "sowing." Here these two words are used to create a metaphor about Martin's mind and knowledge. In your own words, explain this metaphor.
Martin's brain is certainly capable of learning, but he's never learned reading and thinking strategies like the ones you are learning in school. Strategies like inferencing, summarizing, synthesizing, and using context clues for unknown vocabulary would help Martin understand the difficult books he is attempting to read.
In the 1850's and 1860's, Thomas Bulfinch collected and interpreted the myths and legends of the world, publishing them in four volumes. These are excellent for students to read! (This annotation contains an image)
Many people claim the novel Martin Eden is the most autobiographical of Jack London's novels. Watch this video about Jack London and begin to make comparisons between him and his character Martin Eden. (This annotation contains a video)
Ruth is deeply touched with Martin's plea. This sentence contains a powerful simile. In it, who is the giant and what are the bonds holding him down?
Avoiding double negatives and using proper subject-verb agreement are two grammatical conventions Ruth is addressing. The point she is making is that one should sound educated, and we do that by speaking Standard English.
What does Ruth mean when she asks, "Doesn't it jar on your ear?"
Explain what Martin is doing here that he "read in the etiquette books."
If you take a foreign language in school, then you review conjugation each time you learn a new verb because the form changes. Look at the verb "to run" in English. The conjugation is as follows: I run, you run, he/she/it runs, we run, you run, they run.
What is it that Martin seeks out of life?
"The Princess" is a poem about the developing love between a prince and a princess by Alfred Lord Tennyson, written in 1847. Its theme is the equality of man and woman. (This annotation contains an image)
What or who does Ruth compare Martin to?
This passion of "remodelling" another person's life is similar to the story line in the famous play by George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, which was later adapted into a Broadway musical titled My Fair Lady. In this story, however, a young, poor girl from the streets of London, Eliza Doolittle, becomes an experiment to Professor Henry Higgins who tries to transform her into a proper lady. Watch the clip from the movie version of My Fair Lady. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on what we've read so far, Martin has enjoyed his life, and he's lived an adventurous one. He may not be well educated, but he's traveled to many places in the world and been happy. It's true that he desires a different life now, but we can infer that he's enjoyed his life up until this point.
Notice how the writer covers the passage of time in this one paragraph. How much time has passed and what was Martin doing during this time?
Watch the video below on "How to Improve Your Vocabulary." Then list three things that Martin Eden is doing that this video suggests.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRFd1RWJ3II
So this is when Martin Eden decides he wants to become a a writer.
Ultimately, what is Martin's main purpose for becoming a writer?
What is Martin not considering?
Which of the following words best describes Martin's ideas at this point about his writing?
Martin may be wearing a detachable collar like the one below. (This annotation contains an image)
Remember, this idea of "moulding" a person into something better or perfect occurs in other literature. We mentioned the play Pygmalion which was later adapted into the musical My Fair Lady. Shaw based his play on a story from Greek mythology. Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with an ivory statue he carved of a beautiful girl. (This annotation contains an image)
So Ruth's mother, Mrs. Morse, is pleased with Martin's change and Ruth's enthusiasm with their friendship. Mrs. Morse hopes it will arouse Ruth's interest in other men. Why does she feel a romance between Ruth and Martin is "impossible"?
Based on context clues, what do you think is a "wheel"?
What Martin is trying to say is that he doesn't need a teacher. He feels he has a strong enough mind that he can pick up new concepts and subjects on his own. Do you think Martin overestimates his abilities?
One of the underlying themes of this novel may be Jack London's criticism of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy of "Will to Power." A will to power is what Nietzsche believed was a driving force of all humans; it is the ambition and desire to achieve the highest of goals and reach the highest possible position in life. Can you see that "drive" in London's character of Martin Eden? If London intends to criticize this theory, then make some predictions about what will happen to Martin in this story.
What is Martin now deciding to do?
Make a list of all the things Martin does during a typical day.
This is an allusion to Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the underworld in Greek mythology. An allusion is a reference to something well known in culture. Allusions to the Bible and to mythology are very common. Watch this video on allusions. Try to discover other allusions the writer makes as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
William Ernest Henley was a British poet and editor who wrote a series of poems based on his lengthy stay in a hospital in England. It was one of the first times that pain and realistic misery were used as subjects in poetry. He is most famous for his poem "Invictus." Read that poem below and see if you recognize it. (This annotation contains a link)
You can infer that the idiom "red-letter day" means which of the following?
Momentarily, the distance between Martin and Ruth seems small. Because suddenly she seems human to him, and not purely angelic, Martin feels compelled to kiss her and he almost does. But then he realizes that she is so innocent that she doesn't understand or pick up on his advances and this makes him embarrassed .
Martin is now motivated more than ever to become good enough for Ruth. He wants to make her fall in love with him, and he believes he can.
The novel Martin Eden has been adapted to film on three separate occasions. Listen to the song below from the 1979 movie titled Martin Eden. (This annotation contains a video)
Here Martin screams in anger at himself in the mirror, "Who are you?..." because he knows he has the audacity to reach beyond his limits. Look again at the final paragraph and notice its lyrical sound and the imagery. Why do you think London ended this chapter this way?
Herbert Spencer was a major philosopher and academic during the 19th century. Spencer was a staunch believer in evolution and questioned the purpose and influence of traditional religions. (This annotation contains an image)
What scientific theory has Herbert Spencer exposed Martin to as evidenced in these lines?
Explain in your own words the scene at the dinner table. What is Martin doing and thinking? What are his sister, Jim, and Bernard doing?
Martin is referring to Charles Darwin who developed the Theory of Evolution based on Natural Selection. (This annotation contains an image)
In other words, Martin doesn't care about what Ruth ___________; he loves her no matter what.
Latin is often called a "dead" language because it is no longer a spoken language.
Buying his sister Marian a dress reveals that Martin has what quality?
Because we have an omniscient narrator, we are able to know both what Ruth thinks and what Martin is thinking. Explain the difference between Ruth's disappointment with Martin's writing and Martin's disappointment with Ruth's reaction to his writing.
Martin is so taken with the theory of evolution and he is applying it to Ruth's supreme beauty and to his own rise. (This annotation contains an image)
Martin thinks Ruth is "moved" by his story, but what is she really thinking about as he reads to her?
After reading these sentences again, explain in your own words what Ruth thinks of Martin's writing.
Choose the answer that best completes the following sentence:As far as Martin's writing is concerned, _______________________________.
Do you think it is wise for Ruth to "pretend" that Martin shows promise and talent in writing when she doesn't really believe it?Explain your answer.
A flashback is a literary device in which an event from the character's past is brought into the story. Watch the video on flashback and then answer the following question.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7rOcaCDXXw&list=PLFCb6LtU-qa2ntWimC960RY3xNib7cGng&index=24What is the writer's main purpose with this flashback?
Use the Define feature on the word "demur." Which of the following meanings of "demur" is present in this sentence?
This means Cheese-Face is cheating. Brass knuckles are considered a weapon.
Here Martin applies his strong belief in evolution to his own life and the new man he is becoming.
Clearly, this is figurative language. Who or what are Martin's "dishonored children"?Then explain why they are "welcome nowhere."
Joe Dawson says to Martin, "You're green." Using the surrounding context clues, determine what Joe means by this expression.
Have you heard the expression, "on the wagon"? It means that one no longer drinks alcohol. "Falling off the wagon" is the expression used when a person begins drinking again after being sober for a long time.
This is a mangle that is used to wring water from wet clothes. (This annotation contains an image)
It is ironic that Joe works at such a furious pace and yet all of his "saved" minutes will just be spent with more work!
List two details from this chapter that further develop Martin Eden as a good man with sound character.
These corset-covers would help disguise the strings and ties of the corsets that women wore to cinch their waists. The ones below are from around 1905. (This annotation contains an image)
Wow. Martin will ride seventy miles to Oakland on bicycle and seventy miles back just to renew his library books.
According to this paragraph, what has taken the beauty and joy of living out of Martin's life?
Make a prediction about what will happen to Martin or what he will do.
What brings Joe and Martin back to dreaming?
Which of the following sentences does not contain figurative language?
Joe is a sympathetic character. That means that as readers we can identify with him and that we care about him. Give three details that support the idea that Joe is sympathetic. (One example can be the highlighted sentence if you explain why it's important.)
Where might Martin be headed?
What are Ruth and Martin doing in every fantasy-vision he has of the two of them together?
Andrew Carnegie, who made his fortune in the steel industry, was a great philanthropist (lover of mankind). In fact, he gave away to charities nearly 90% of his wealth. One of his primary beneficiaries were local libraries, thus explaining Martin calling him the "book-giver" of the world. (This annotation contains an image)
This statement by Ruth's mother should make you angry. If anyone is noble, true, and manly, it is Martin. Think of how Ruth and her mother are snobs.
Ruth is no longer a likeable character. She has betrayed Martin and so we feel betrayed by her too. Think about why you dislike Ruth now and how Mrs. and Mr. Morse have cruelly used Martin.
This sentence contains a common literary device with its Biblical reference. What do we call this literary device?
Explain why you think Ruth is feeling guilty or ashamed of her actions with Martin.
Do you wish you could talk to Martin, and warn him of Ruth's true feelings and her shallow nature? What would you say to him?
The Golden Gate Bridge is a famous symbol of San Francisco. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Ruth implying?
What has Martin realized in this paragraph?
What is Mr. Morse's advice to his wife?
What type of writing does Martin plan to do before he writes his masterpieces?
Why does Mrs. Morse claim Martin is "irresponsible"?
Read the poem "In My Craft or Sullen Art " by Dylan Thomas. Then answer the question that follows.In My Craft or Sullen ArtDylan Thomas (1914-1953)In my craft or sullen artExercised in the still nightWhen only the moon ragesAnd the lovers lie abedWith all their griefs in their arms, I labour by singing lightNot for ambition or breadOr the strut and trade of charmsOn the ivory stagesBut for the common wagesOf their most secret heart.Not for the proud man apartFrom the raging moon I writeOn these spindrift pagesNor for the towering deadWith their nightingales and psalmsBut for the lovers, their armsRound the griefs of the ages, Who pay no praise or wagesNor heed my craft or art.For what or whom does the writer in the poem write?
Notice how the writer uses spatial details to describe Martin's new living quarters. What purpose does revealing the tight and cramped features of the room achieve?
Explain how Martin paying "...a dollar each on account to the four tradesmen" with the five dollars he got for his overcoat further characterizes him. What does it reveal about Martin?
Which of the following is the best interpretation of the highlighted sentence.
According to Martin, Praps and Vanderwater, two renowned literary critics, were _______ and ________.
It's interesting how what is viewed as attractive changes over time. Back in the early 1900's, being muscular and/or tanned meant that you had to work hard for a living, often outside. This would easily mark you as a member of the lower class. Of course, today, a tanned, muscular look is considered attractive. In fact, many people will put a lot of effort into achieving that look.
Have you ever been to the opera? Watch a clip of the famous opera Carmen. (This annotation contains a video)
In your own words, summarize what Martin is saying about the opera.
Martin is explaining to Ruth that he will form his own opinions about what he likes and dislikes. Just because most people think something is good doesn't mean he will. Do you think most people are like that or do you think people often follow what the "majority" thinks?
Do you notice that often Martin will experience something and then immediately write about it?
The Azores is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic. They are considered a part of Portugal. (This annotation contains an image)
Besides his suit, list three other items that Martin has now pawned.
After going through all that he owes and what he will have left over, make a prediction about what will be in the envelope.
What is Martin doing and how do you know? Use details to support your answer.
This means Martin has the flu, or influenza.
What did the magazine say about Martin's story?
Martin's room may look something like this. You can imagine how shocking this must be for Ruth. (This annotation contains an image)
What assumption is Martin making that may prove to be very wrong?
Martin is explaining to Ruth how he accidentally stumbled into a leper colony. Leprosy is a disfiguring infectious disease which covers the body in open sores. Below is a picture of three boys with leprosy. (This annotation contains an image)
This is a reference to a famous female character in Shakespeare's tragic play, Othello. Desdemona was married to the Moorish general, Othello, and she would marvel over the stories of his travels and adventures. (This annotation contains an image)
This is an extended metaphor comparing what quality of Ruth's to a gale (storm at sea)?
In other words, Martin wanted to write about human beings with both man's ability to be good and supreme as well as man's equal ability to be savage.
Why is Mrs. Morse bringing lots of young, successful men to her home?
To "talk shop" is an idiomatic expression which means to discuss your profession or to talk about your work. Idioms are unique and present in every culture. Watch the video on idioms. How many do you recognize? (This annotation contains a video)
According to Martin, what kinds of things do "idlers," or wealthy people, like to talk about? List at least four from the text and then add one that is not mentioned but would probably be included in the talk among wealthy people.
Why is Ruth appalled?
So Martin thinks now that bankers are unoriginal; he is definitely not impressed.
Martin means that Ruth's cousins don't "put on airs" and act as if they are better than others.
The narrator is telling us that Martin's brain is able to possess more knowledge than the so called "well-educated" people who were at the Morses' house. People equal to Martin's level of thinking are loners, not people one would find at a social gathering.
This sentence tells us figuratively that Martin has stopped making money from his writing. What type of figurative language is used to do this?
Explain the difference between the writing that Martin is selling and the writing that is not selling.
Martin has figured out that the type of stories that sell must have which of the following?
Which of the following words best describes the stories that Martin is producing because he knows they will sell?
Martin's writing is being published, but he is not getting paid.
In other words, The Billow only publishes work that has been contributed. Unless they request for someone to send in writing, they consider anything sent to be just a contribution.
Martin learns that the more respected magazines do not publish pieces unless they first hire a writer to write.
Martin finds everything in the Morse house gaudy and shallow. Remember in the beginning of the novel, though, when he was so impressed and longed to be a part of Ruth's world? Now he finds them boring and beneath him.
Do you think Martin is becoming a little arrogant?
This sounds a lot like Friedrich Neitszhe's philosophy of the individual using his creativity to transcend social and cultural boundaries.
Circe is a goddess of magic from Homer's Odyssey. Circe invites Odysseus' crew to dine with her but she poisons them all and turns them into swine. (This annotation contains an image)
Who is Martin speaking to?
Ruth still does not think much of Martin's writing.
What word best describes the advice Ruth is offering Martin?
Otto Weininger was an Austrian philosopher. Martin claims that editors or critics of literature do not really think for themselves. They only serve to argue among each other about what the few, real thinkers think. (This annotation contains an image)
Martin feels that if he doesn't succeed in writing he has proved he's ready to be a(n) _______________.
A paradox is something that seems like a contradiction, but is really true. According to Martin, editors are writers who failed at their craft and so must criticize the writing of others in order to make a living. So the irony is that they (who clearly could not write well enough themselves) stand as the judges of what is good writing and what is not good writing. Watch the video below on paradoxes. Do you agree that what Martin is describing is a paradox? (This annotation contains a video)
This may be a theme in this novel: to achieve greatness in your art, you must endure. Martin has already shown tenacity in his character. He would not give up against Cheese-Face and no matter how much rejection his writing receives, he is still determined to write.
Perhaps Martin's writing is "over most people's heads" or too academic. Think of the difference between an article in People or Time magazine as opposed to an article in an academic journal.
Read this highlighted sentence again. In your own words, explain the difference between Martin's feelings about his writing and what Ruth claims writing is to Martin.
This is important. Ruth is finally coming right out and saying that she doesn't think Martin is talented as a writer. Do you agree that she knows more about literature than he does?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a famous American poet. Two of his more popular poems include "Paul Revere's Ride" and "The Song of Hiawatha." (This annotation contains an image)
What is the real reason Martin is not riding the Telegraph Avenue car?
This is an interesting question. How do "we" as readers know whether or not Martin's writing is any good? He has had several pieces published, but not the pieces that he feels represent his best work. We also know that Ruth doesn't think his work is very good, but then again, she may be part of what Martin calls the "established" and only likes what she's been trained to like.
This sentence compares Martin's hunger for company to that of a fish snapping at a hook. What do we call this type of figurative language?
Martin has finally found someone who he feels is intellectually his equal, or perhaps even, intellectually superior to himself, someone he can learn from.
"I'm a lunger," means that Brissenden suffers from respiratory illness and must live in a dry climate. Arizona has a dry climate.
Martin is explaining that he use to be ashamed of his poverty before he became self-educated. Now he has learned that his intellect, and what he has sacrificed for it, is worth much more than money. So he is no longer ashamed to be hungry and will not be insulted if someone offers to buy him a meal.
Brissenden may be referring to his lung condition. He may have tuberculosis which often results in coughing up blood.
In saying this, Brissenden is being _______________.
What is Brissenden's advice to Martin?
Martin just grabbed Brissenden's throat because Brissenden insulted Ruth. Then Brissenden tells Martin that he wished he would have killed him. In other words, Brissenden suffers greatly from his illness and no longer wants to live.
Brissenden guesses right. Martin's looks and fine physique have always attracted women. Brissenden wonders why Martin would fall for a girl like Ruth, a member of the class of people that they have mutually made fun of. He advises Martin to fall for a different kind of woman. A "...great wanton flame of a woman, who laughs at life and jeers at death and loves one while she may."
What has Brissenden once done just to see what it was like?
What do you think has happened to Brissenden?
Now we have more evidence that Martin is indeed a talented writer. Not only does Brissenden think highly of Martin's writing, but these editors seem to also admire Martin's writing.
Do you think Martin has a right to obtain his money this way? Do you think he will be punished for it?
Apparently, The Hornet is not planning on paying Martin what they owe him, even after he tries to force it out of them.
This is becoming a pattern of Martin's. Explain what it is that he keeps doing.
So Martin was offered a job with the Railway Mail and he turned it down. We can infer that Ruth is not pleased with this at all. Do you think he will lose her?
Besides the police, most institutions or businesses will not take any complaint or suggestion seriously if it is made anonymously.
How has Martin gained his expertise in ironing?
Remember, this is Martin's sister Mirian's fiance, the one who became so angry about the poem Martin wrote about his sister.
A toddy is a hot drink made with liquor, water, honey or sugar, and sometimes with lemon. (This annotation contains an image)
Wow, this must be some poem! List three phrases that reveal Martin's enthusiasm for Brissenden's poem.
A swan song is something great someone does before they die or leave a position. The expression comes from the legendary belief that a swan sings a beautiful song just before its death. (This annotation contains an image)
Martin shows us again and again that he is generous and honest and good at heart.
Which of the following excerpts does not favorably characterize Martin?
Ernest Haeckel was a German biologist and philosopher. He was a strong advocate and believer in the theory of evolution. (This annotation contains an image)
What statement is the writer, Jack London, making about most geniuses?
All of the men here are intellectuals and they are arguing and discussing the theories of many different philosophers and scientists.
An Agnostic believes that there is no way to understand or know if a higher or supreme being exists.
What does Martin compare to "fairyland" or a child's first trip to the circus?
In other words, to create a story Martin first thinks of a motif or theme--for example, the betrayal of a friend-- and once he decides on that, he builds the setting, characters, and plot around it.
He is referring to Joseph Conrad who wrote Lord Jim, a tale about a first mate who aborts his distressed ship and later regrets it. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you remember this Martin from the beginning of the novel?
The judge is mocking Martin and accusing him of changing positions on socialism just so he and Mr. Morse won't give Martin a hard time.
This paragraph is very important to the theme or message of the novel. Martin Eden is an individualist. He will survive because he has the strength of his will. He will rise to the top and he will stay there.
Uh-oh! Martin may regret being so blunt and talking to a judge this way, especially in front of Ruth's parents.
Who is the "great, noble man" that the judge insulted?
As far as political and social theory go, who does the "man on horseback" represent?
This is Martin again applying evolutionary theories, particularly that of "survival of the fittest," the brainchild of Spencer, to the room of people around him.
This statement in Martin's speech supports which theory?
What word does Martin use twice to describe the sinister and sneaky men who enslave others?
What can we infer this reporter is going to do?
Make a prediction about what will happen now.
Brissenden means to "mess with him," or indulge him and play along for awhile, just so Martin and Brissenden can be amused by it.
Both Martin and Brissenden are talking about the reporter as if he isn't sitting right there.
We can tell that both Martin and Brissenden HATE news reporters based on all of the statements except which?
What is implied by repeating that "Martin learned a great deal about himself" as he read the news article?
The definition of a tragedy in literature is when a hero brings about his own downfall. Martin seems to be losing everything. Do you think he is a tragic hero? Has he brought about his own downfall or is he a victim of his surroundings? Explain your answer using details from the story.
It is ironic that Martin is accused of being a socialist because he is exactly the opposite. He is an individualist.
Martin is strong and honest and he demands strength and honesty from Ruth.
Martin seems to be at his lowest.
Do you think these verses are prophetic about Martin? If so, what does this mean for him?
Martin feels guilty because he fells he has betrayed his friend Brissenden.
This is an implied metaphor. That means that one thing being compared is implied but not stated. We know that Martin is being compared to something. What is it?
List three details from this page that would have angered Brissenden about his poem if he were alive.
Martin is longing to return to the sea, to return to the life he had at the beginning of the novel.
This, of course, is classic irony. Now that Martin has lost everything--especially his will to write--the publishers are buying his work. Watch the video below on the three types of irony. Be able to explain why this is a good example of "situational irony." (This annotation contains a video)
This is yet another example of Martin's _______________.
She must think Martin stole the money.
This is something like what Martin is describing in Chili. (This annotation contains an image)
It seems that everything about Martin has changed. Is this a good thing or bad thing?
Remember in the beginning of the novel, one of Jimmy's girls throws Jimmy over and falls for Martin.
Isn't this exactly the kind of girl Brissenden told Martin he should find?
In most fiction, by the end of the story the protagonist is changed somehow. Either he or she has learned something through experience and conflict or the situation has changed for that character. Take A Christmas Carol, for example. By the end of the novel, Ebeneezer Scrooge is a completely changed man. However, in the fairy tale Cinderella, the main character is still the same sweet- natured girl she was in the beginning, but her situation has completely changed. No longer is she a slave in her own home, but is now married to the prince.
Martin's strong will seems to be waning.
So now, when Martin could care less, when he no longer plans to write, and no longer plans to marry Ruth, he has a best selling book. What literary device does this exemplify?
Why do you think Martin has asked Maria to meet him?
So Martin has the #1 best-seller on both the fiction and the nonfiction list.
The very same magazines that rejected his writing are now begging for his writing. What is Martin doing to "make them sweat"?
What is the one thing that Martin refuses to do?
Martin is explaining that the success of "The Shame of the Sun" is not because it was that good. Even the publishers didn't understand why it did so well. They were shocked by its popularity. Martin is realizing that there is no explanation to fame and success. Only that it is fickle, capricious, and seemingly random. It has nothing at all to do with talent or quality. Do you think that is still true today?
In other words, once "The Shame of the Sun" was published and well received, all of Martin's other work was suddenly getting published. And most of it had already been submitted before and had been rejected.
What expression is used on this page to indicate that the public either "loves you or hates you"?
Do you see a pattern that is developing in this novel? Why do you think Mr. Morse is inviting Martin to dinner? Make a prediction.
We know now that all of this is true. The Morses only think favorably of Martin Eden because he is now famous and accepted by society.
Yes, Ruth may have truly loved Martin, but when it came down to it, she loved her social position more.
Is Martin right? Is it the money and fame that have suddenly given him importance? Are people still like that?
In your own words, explain the deal Martin has worked out with Bernard. Then explain why this act of Martin's is no surprise to the reader.
Read the poem by Emily Dickinson about fame. Then answer the question below.Fame is a Fickle FoodBy Emily DickensonFame is a fickle foodUpon a shifting plateWhose table once aGuest but notThe second time is setWhose crumbs the crows inspectAnd with ironic cawFlap past it to theFarmer’s cornMen eat of it and dieWhich of the following statements is the best translation for the first two lines of this poem?
This means Kreis is a man of "real" intellect with original ideas. He is one of the men Martin so enjoyed listening to the night Brissenden first took him to the apartment of intellectuals.
Martin is honest and generous to the core. He means exactly what he says and says what he means. He doesn't really care about money and is willing to help just about everyone out. Why is Martin giving Kreis this money?
Because Martin is such a good person, he is not going to act cold or angry toward Ruth because he knows that will hurt her. However, he does not love her anymore.
Were you right in your earlier prediction?
Who do you think is better for Martin, Ruth or Lizzie? Explain using details from the novel.
In other words, Martin is saying that he can't expect Ruth to have more character than she is capable of. So he will forgive her.
Don't you think this is true?
What has made Martin so sick and "sated" with life?
Remember Joe Dawson, the launderer who trained Martin and befriended him. Joe went off to become a hobo.
Martin wants to be on a ship down below, not with the wealthy passengers, but near where he used to spend his time as a sailor.
Explain what has changed about Martin's view of sleep. Use details from the story in your answer.
Joe once told Martin that he wished he owned his own laundry.
The author makes a biblical reference to Psalm 23:"...Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me..."What do we call this literary device?
This is probably not what Martin wants to hear because he no longer enjoys life.
List at least three things that Martin no longer has interest in.
Martin is an "unsatisfactory" great man aboard because he is so unsocial now.
Martin use to reminisce about these winds, calling them, "steady, and cool, and strong." Now they irritate him. What phrase personifies the trade winds?
Without reading on, what do you think is the "cure" Martin has discovered?
In the first chapter of the novel, Martin comes across a book of poems by Swinburne. Having Martin come across Swinburne in the last chapter is a nice touch by the writer Jack London; it helps us feel that we've come full circle with this character. The stanza here is from Swinburne's poem "The Garden of Proserpine," about the goddess of the harvest who must spend her time in the Underworld. The poem is lovely even though it is about death.
Remember, a "swan song" is a last, beautiful gesture before one dies.
This is so depressing. Martin's failure to endure must be viewed as London finding fault somehow in Martin's individualist philosophy. It must be in some way incomplete or insufficient.