Naturalism and Jack London


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A theme setter before 11th graders read Jack London's "To Build a London"

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Naturalism and Jack London

  1. 1. Naturalism and Jack London Sheehy English 11
  2. 2. Two ways to describe naturalism <ul><li>These are basic ways – there is more to it than this if we get detailed. </li></ul>
  3. 3. In Dialogue <ul><li>A man said to the universe:  &quot;Sir, I exist!&quot;  &quot;However,&quot; replied the universe,  &quot;The fact has not created in me  A sense of obligation.&quot; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stephen Crane </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. In dry explanation <ul><li>Human beings are &quot;human beasts” and nature has no particular consideration for them – nature is a cold, impersonal thing and, thus, for people, there is no special connection with it. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What it looks like in story <ul><li>What can you expect to see in a “naturalist” story? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Particular characters <ul><li>Often ill-educated or lower-class </li></ul><ul><li>Lives are governed by the forces of heredity, instinct, and passion </li></ul><ul><li>Their attempts at exercising free will or choice are stopped by forces beyond their control </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Plots <ul><li>Often not a full tale </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“slice-of-life&quot; drama </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>often a &quot;chronicle of despair” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conflict is often &quot;man against nature&quot; or &quot;man against himself&quot; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Characters struggle to stay civilized despite pressures that threaten to release the &quot;brute within.&quot; </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. “To Build a Fire” <ul><li>What to expect with this particular “naturalist” story </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Along the Yukon River in the frozen northern wilderness, an inexperienced but confident prospector and his work dog make a long and dangerous journey on foot toward a camp. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>The temperature is far colder than the man thinks, too cold for a solitary journey. That is his first mistake . . . </li></ul>
  11. 11. As you read
  12. 12. <ul><li>Just read the story – no notes or double entry diaries necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Observe the role nature plays in the story </li></ul><ul><li>Note the roles and role changes of the man and the dog </li></ul>
  13. 13. How do we respond? <ul><li>Forget the reflective essays for this one. Let’s join London at his craft. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Responding to London <ul><li>Write a short story (just 1-2 pages) </li></ul><ul><li>Make it a naturalist story, expressing the naturalist’s view of the world. </li></ul>
  15. 15. How can I be like London? <ul><li>To be like Jack London, we’re going to have to take a closer look at what he does and how he does it. </li></ul><ul><li>That means examining his style and how he then expresses his world view in his writing. </li></ul><ul><li>That is, we’ll figure out how his world view informs his writing. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Examining London closely <ul><li>Notice the verbs – simple sentences describing the action in a way you can picture </li></ul><ul><li>“ When the man had finished , he filled his pipe and took his comfortable time over a smoke. Then he pulled on his mittens, settled the ear-flaps of his cap firmly about his ears, and took the creek trail up the left fork. The dog was disappointed and yearned back toward the fire.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. Moving beyond basic description <ul><li>Now London moves from the description to a thought about the dog and the man. He’s still describing ( see orange parts ), but it’s not his only focus. </li></ul><ul><li>“ This man did not know cold. Possibly all the generations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of real cold, of cold one hundred and seven degrees below freezing-point . But the dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge. And it knew that it was not good to walk abroad in such fearful cold. It was the time to lie snug in a hole in the snow and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of outer space whence this cold came.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Stating the naturalist philosophy <ul><li>London has tied the naturalistic philosophy into the story by describing the relationship between the man and the dog. </li></ul><ul><li>“ On the other hand, there was keen intimacy between the dog and the man. The one was the toil-slave of the other, and the only caresses it had ever received were the caresses of the whip-lash and of harsh and menacing throat-sounds that threatened the whip-lash. So the dog made no effort to communicate its apprehension to the man. It was not concerned in the welfare of the man ; it was for its own sake that it yearned back toward the fire.” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Moving back to description <ul><li>After expressing the thought, London returns to describing the action. </li></ul><ul><li>“But the man whistled, and spoke to it with the sound of whip-lashes, and the dog swung in at the man's heels and followed after.” </li></ul>
  20. 20. How can you do this? <ul><li>Look to one of your paragraphs and revise it in a Londonesque style </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you don’t want to revise one, add a new one to your story. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mimic what London did </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use short sentences with lots of verbs to describe some simple action. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leave the action to explain some thoughts and observations about the character(s). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give your thoughts a shot of naturalism. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Return to describing the action to finish your paragraph. </li></ul></ul>