Nature: American Literature and American Themes Let’s discuss: How does Into the Wild represent our unit theme: self, society, and rugged individualism?
Role of Nature in American Literature Transcendentalism vs. Naturalism New ideas about man and man’s place in the universe began to take root in America. Living in a cold, indifferent, and essentially Godless world, man was no longer free in any sense of the word. Darwinian concepts like “the survival of the fittest” and “the human beast” became popular catchwords and standards of moral reference in an amoral world. • We should live close to nature, for it is our greatest teacher. • Individualism lies at the heart of Transcendentalism. Every individual needs to be self-reliant and thus not depend upon others if he or she is to be free and to live life fully. • Culture and society tend to corrupt our intuition, establishing other determiners for morality and truth(church, government, etc.) that deny us our own truths.
Jack London: Naturalist • At the age of 17, he ventured to sea on a sealing ship and from then on to voyages on ship became one of his favorites and material for his later writing. • In his teens, he joined Coxey’s Army in its famous march on Washington, D.C., and was later arrested for vagrancy. The turning point of his life was a thirty-day imprisonment that was so degrading it made him decide to turn to education and pursue a career in writing. • His years in the Klondike a Gold Prospector (from 1897-1898 ) had to be ended because of his poor health, which would provide abundant material for his future novels and stories . • From 1905 to 1913, London set up his own “Beauty Ranch” totaling 1,400 acres bought. At Beauty Ranch, he raised many animals such as prize bulls, horses, and pigs and cultivated a wide variety of crops, fully enjoying the life of a rancher.
Jack London: Naturalist • Call of the Wild, 1903 • The Sea Wolf, 1904 • White Fang, 1906 • Martin Eden, 1909 • The appeal of naturalistic tales is often escape. • The urban problems of unemployment, labor wars, and poverty are left behind for a spare scenario in which an individual can be tested. • A stock naturalistic device involves taking an "overcivilized" man from the upper classes into a primitive environment where he must live by muscle and wit.
Jack London: Naturalist • The story takes place in Yukon Territory, Canada, during the Klondike Gold Rush at the end of the 19th-century, and details a wild wolfdog'sjourney to domestication. • The novel is written from the view-point of his canine character, enabling London to explore how animals view their world and how they view humans. • White Fang examines the violent world of wild animals and the equally violent world of humans.
Let’s consider: How might Jack London’s works connect the themes of self, society, and rugged individualism?
Jack London Chris McCandless “The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” "I would rather be ashes than dust!I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot.I would rather be a superb meteor,every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.I shall use my time"Jack London (1876 - 1916)