The Son of the Wolf
Jack London gained his first and most lasting fame as the author of tales of the Klondike gold rush. This, his first collection of stories, draws on his experience in the Yukon. The stories tell of gambles won and lost, of endurance and sacrifice, and often turn on the qualities of exceptional women and on the relations between the white adventurers and the native tribes.
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Part 1 - The White Silence
Before reading Part One, note that Jack London sets many of his short stories in the Yukon, which is the smallest and most western of Canada's federal territories. He often writes stories in this setting because he, at the age of 21 in 1897, joined the Klondike Gold Rush. This gold rush was a migration of approximately 100,000 people in search of gold in the Klondike region of the Yukon. View the highlighted land area of the Yukon on the map below: (This annotation contains an image)
Read the highlighted paragraph. Based on the evidence provided, identify the relationship between Ruth and Mason.
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?
Notice how the author mentions this story's title here ("The White Silence") several times. What do you think "The White Silence" represents or refers to?
Who is Carmen?
Which of the following statements is true according to Mason's words in the highlighted paragraph?
What does Mason mean when he says "don't leave me to face it alone"? What might the "it" be referring to here?
Watch the following video on theme. What might be the theme of this short story? (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on theme. What is the central theme of this short story? Also, what does the "White Silence" represent? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your response.
The author provides us with a great deal of indirect characterization here. Watch the following video on indirect characterization and see if you can identify how the author reveals "Scruff" Mackenzie's skills and personality. (This annotation contains a video)
What cause does "Scruff" Mackenzie plead here?
Practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States, a potlatch is a gift-giving celebration.
Why does the author include the highlighted detail?
Do you recall this phrase from the first short story in the book? Why do you think the author references it here once again?
What does the highlighted paragraph reveal?
Why has "the Fox" never married?
Recall the video clip on indirect characterization. What do we learn about "Scruff" Mackenzie here based on the description of his thoughts and actions?
Summarize Thling-Tinneh's speech that precedes this highlighted line. Why does Mackenzie smile in response to Thling-Tinneh's words? Provide at least two examples from the text to strengthen your response.
What does the author mean by "pricked the Bear" here?
This story contains a great deal of subtlety. What do you think is the central theme or message in this story?
Watch the following video on point of view and cultural perspective. From what point of view is this story told? (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on point of view and cultural perspective. Based on the details provided thus far, from what point of view is this story told?
A simile occurs when an author compares two unlike things using the words "like" or "as." Can you identify the simile in the highlighted lines?
Based on the context of the sentence, which of the following could accurately replace the words "combined action" here?
Identify the correct meaning of the highlighted line.
Forty-Mile, located where the Yukon and Fortymile Rivers meet, is the oldest town in Canada's Yukon. It was created in 1886 by prospectors searching for gold. The image below is a photograph of Forty-Mile that was taken in the late 1800's. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the following video on internal and external conflict. What type of conflict is described in this highlighted paragraph? (This annotation contains a video)
Evaluate the final line of this story. What does this mean? Furthermore, what is the main lesson or theme from the story? Provide at least two examples to support your response.
How are Weatherbee and Cuthfert characterized in the highlighted paragraph?
View the image below to see the general location of the Great Slave Lake. Notice how close it is to the Arctic Circle... What type of difficulties do you think the people would encounter here? (This annotation contains an image)
Notice the characterization here... Do you think this is direct or indirect characterization?
"The first words they had" means
London may be making a comment about the dangers of inexperience here. Examine how ill-prepared Cuthfert and Weatherbee are to survive amid this harsh nature. What do you think the author wants us to understand with these descriptions and characterizations?
There are an array of external conflicts in this story. One of the primary conflicts is man versus man, as seen in the disagreements between Cuthfert and Weatherbee. Examine, however, the external conflict of man versus nature in this section. How do the men struggle to cope with nature, and what central message does the author send by including this conflict in his story?
Which of the following accurately describes what is happening to Weatherbee here?
The author is likely describing the serious consequences of frostbite here. What other struggles would someone endure in this harsh natural setting?
How does the author emphasize their suffering here?
Why do the men have "tears in their eyes"? What causes their sudden burst of happiness here?
Notice how the author uses the words "they" here to refer to the "two dead men." These words suggest that Weatherbee has completely lost his sense of reality here... He believes that ghosts are directing his actions.
View the following painting by Ivan Aivazovsky. What does this painting depict, and how might this painting connect with some of the themes and conflicts from this story? (This annotation contains an image)
Refer to the previous annotation to view the painting by Ivan Aivazovsky. Describe what the painting depicts and then explain how Aivazovsky's painting connects with the man versus nature conflict in this story. Provide at least one specific example from each text (one from the painting and one from the story) to strengthen your response.
The name Malemute might come from the Alaskan Malamute, which is a large dog known for its strength and endurance. The Alaskan Malamute is the type of dog that is used for pulling sleds for racing or transport. (This annotation contains an image)
Onomatopoeia occurs when an author uses a word to describe a sound. Do you see an example of this here?
How does the author characterize the man described in the highlighted passage?
What does the author imply with the line that seeing this picture "made women and children of them all"?
In your own words, summarize Belden's reason for coming here.
Why does it require the young officer to use "his whole will" to walk steadily here?
Death seems to be a theme that is present in several of London's stories thus far. Read the following poem "Fear No More" by William Shakespeare. How might Shakespeare's poem of death connect with the theme of death in this story? (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation to read the poem "Fear No More" by William Shakespeare. Summarize the poem in your own words, and then explain how the poem connects to the theme of death from this story or another story from this collection. In what way are the attitudes towards death similar or different between the poem and the story? Provide at least one example from each text to support your response.
Offal is meat that's derived from the internal organs and entrails of an animal.
Why does the author describe Edwin and Grace as "strangely assorted"?
The description of the lamb being led to the slaughter is an example of figurative language. Watch the following video on figurative and literal language to gain more insight into the meaning of this line. (This annotation contains a video)
To whom does the phrase "big baby" refer?
The highlighted paragraph shows an example of
A Jesuit is a member of the Society of Jesus, which is a Roman Catholic order. The order was founded by founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, illustrated below. (This annotation contains an image)
Evaluate Grace's conflict. What type of conflict is this (internal or external) and what is the cause of it? How does this conflict connect with a potential theme from the story?
What does Father Roubeau mean by these lines? Why does he say this to her?
Parts of the highlighted lines are excerpts from Rudyard Kipling's "Certain Maxims Of Hafiz." Read the full paragraph from which this excerpt is derived: "If She have spoken a word, remember thy lips are sealed, And the Brand of the Dog is upon him by whom is the secret revealed. If She have written a letter, delay not an instant but burn it. Tear it to pieces, O Fool, and the wind to her mate shall return it! If there be trouble to Herward, and a lie of the blackest can clear, Lie, while thy lips can move or a man is alive to hear."
Refer to the previous annotation to read the excerpt from the English poet and writer Rudyard Kipling. Summarize Kipling's paragraph. Why does the author include this reference here? How do Kipling's words connect with the central theme of this short story? Provide at least one example from each text to support your response.
What do you think the author means by the word "alien" here?
What is the author's purpose in providing the description in the highlighted paragraphs?
Notice the indirect characterization here. What word would you use to describe Mrs. Eppingwell?
What is likely going to happen to the "single Indian" described in these lines?
The highlighted lines are a form of figurative language known as "personification." Watch the following video on personification to gain more insight into this literary technique: (This annotation contains a video)
What literary technique does London use to here?
Once again, London shows us a male character's interest in a fellow female character, bringing our attention for the need for companionship. The themes of nature and companionship are present in many of London's short stories. Evaluate how these themes have appeared in at least two stories thus far. What lesson(s) does London want us to understand with the exploration of these themes?
What do you think causes Cal's feelings of restlessness?
This line refers to the fact that, because of the Yukon's location on the Earth, the sunlight is basically endless for the first three months of summer. To learn more about the hours of daylight and darkness in this region, visit the following website: (This annotation contains a link)
The Stuart River, shown below, is one of the largest tributaries of the Nechako River. The Stuart River is located in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. (This annotation contains an image)
What are the men trying to teach Madeline here?
What "coaching" does the author refer to here? What is Madeline trying to learn?
The author is quite subtle in this story... Explain what you think is happening. Why is Madeline practicing these skills? What is her plan?
"Schottisching" refers to a type of dance. It is similar to the polka but with a slower rhythm.
To what does the "weird song" refer?
What does the description of the "trainers" reactions tell you about Madeline's change and transformation?
The "Aurora Borealis" is also commonly known as the "Northern Lights." View an image of this phenomenon below: (This annotation contains an image)
Who is most likely the "mystery woman" described here?
An interesting moral theme is emerging here... What central lesson does the author want us to understand with this story?
London explores the issue of prejudice in this story. Summarize how the topic of prejudice is presented throughout "The Wife of a King." What does London want us to understand about the prejudice that some indigenous people may have faced during this time period in this region of the Yukon? Provide at least two examples to support your response.
Part 9 - An Odyssey of the North
An odyssey is generally a long epic poem, commonly attributed to the famous Greek poet Homer; however, the term can also refer to a series of adventures or wanderings that are filled with struggles and hardships. Because the term "odyssey" is generally used in reference to Homer's famous writing, look for allusions as you read the story. An allusion is when an author makes a reference to another text, event, person, et cetera.
To whom do you think "the Queen" refers? Look for context clues as you read to try and uncover who the queen might be.
The name "Mr. Ulysses" may be an example of
Why does "He of the Otter Skins" weigh his gold on a scale and engage in a "business" transaction here?
What is the purpose of this story here?
Ulysses is a novel by Irish author James Joyce, and is considered to be one of the most important Modern Literature works. The title Ulysses is the Latinised name of “Odysseus,” who is the central hero in Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. Throughout the novel, Joyce draws parallels between his protagonist and Odysseus. Now, considering London's title “An Odyssey of the North,” as well as the allusions to Ulysses here, you will likely encounter a number of allusions throughout this short story. To gain more insight to these references, watch the brief summary of The Odyssey by viewing the video below: (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video summary of The Odyssey. Provide a brief summary of The Odyssey in your own words and then identify why London has chosen to allude to Homer's famous poem in this short story. What parallels can you identify between The Odyssey and "The Odyssey of the North"? Provide at least two specific examples from each text to support your response.
Notice how the author delays telling us what causes "the horror in his eyes." This slow revealing of information helps add to the tension and suspense in this moment.
What best describes the mood here?
What is the author's purpose in including this detail? What does this information allow us to infer?
The speaker here describes a history that focuses on
Look up the definition of "oomiak" by using the dictionary tool and view an example of this style of boat in the image below: (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the story that the chief has told thus far. What is the purpose of this story?
What does "I made to drive him through with my spear" mean in the context of this paragraph?
Observe the simile here. What does this simile suggest about the men in the city at this moment?
Recall the video summary of The Odyssey... What parallels do you notice between this chief's tale and Homer's Odyssey?
The chief's actions and experiences show that he is
What does the line "her life had been large" mean here? What is your reaction to this highlighted line?
What does the "trail unpacked" likely mean in the context of this sentence?
The indirect characterization of Unga here shows that she is
Notice the contrast between the two characters, especially considering the details that one walks and the other crawls "like a dog." What does this description suggest here?
Read the following excerpt from Homer's The Odyssey. What parallels or differences do you see between this moment and the lines from Homer's text? “Now from his breast into the eyes the ache / of longing mounted, and he wept at last, / his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms, / longed for as the / sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer / spent in rough water where his ship went down / under Poseidon's blows, gale winds and tons of sea. / Few men can keep alive through a big serf to crawl, clotted with brine, on kindly beaches in joy, in joy, knowing the abyss behind: and so she too rejoiced, her gaze upon her husband, / her white arms round him pressed as though forever.”
Evaluate how London uses allusions throughout "The Odyssey of the North." What parallels do you see between Homer's The Odyssey and London's story? Furthermore, what do you think is London's central purpose in writing "The Odyssey of the North"? Provide at least two examples from the story to support your response.