To Build a Fire Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. When and where was Jack London born? Who were his parents?

Jack London was born in 1876 in San Francisco, California, to Flora Wellman, whose common-law husband left her upon learning that she was pregnant. London took his surname from his stepfather, John London, whom his mother married shortly after her son's birth.

2. When did Jack London drop out of school? Where did he go to work at that time?

London quit school at age fourteen and took a series of jobs along the Oakland waterfront, working in a cannery and as a longshoreman, making money by stealing from the oyster beds in San Francisco Bay, and, later, serving as a seaman on a ship bound for Japan.

3. What were Jack London’s experiences like during the Klondike Gold Rush?

In 1897 London took part in the Klondike Gold Rush in northwestern Canada. Although he proved unsuccessful as a miner, his experiences in the grim and frozen North land provided him with a wealth of ideas for fiction. When he returned to Oakland, he began his career as an author.

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