Woodsong Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 23 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Woodsong.
This section contains 447 words
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Woodsong Summary & Study Guide Description

Woodsong Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Woodsong by Gary Paulsen.

Author Gary Paulsen, especially well-known for the young adult book Hatchet, uses Woodsong to communicate various stories about Paulsen's experiences with animals in the woods in Alaska over the ten or so year period where he trapped animals and ran dog sleds. The main themes of the book focus on the beauty of nature, both animate and inanimate. But it is especially focused on the beauty, depth and complexity of animal life and about how Paulsen came to appreciate the importance of treating animals with dignity and respect. The book runs the emotional gamut, from times of exaltation and joy to experiences of pain, despair and terror. Paulsen is often unusually lucid and at other times bogged down with injury and hallucination. But throughout the book, Paulsen's animals are always around, and his dogs in particular are always available to help.

Woodsong is divided into two parts. Part I, Running, is a collection of eight essays about Paulsen's experiences with animals. Chapter 1 impresses upon the reader that nature truly is shocking and often horrifying in its cruelty. This is especially true of interactions between predator and prey. Paulsen's description of a doe being ripped apart by wolves before his very eyes is meant to shock the reader into conceiving of nature in a different way. Chapters 2 and 3 introduce the reader to Paulsen's most beloved animals, his sledding dogs, many of whom had unique and endearing personalities and whose emotional complexities convinced Paulsen that he could no longer trap or kill animals outside of extreme necessity.

Chapter 4 focuses on Paulsen's explanation of the deepest difference between humans and animals - the use of controlled fire. It takes the reader through a number of conflicts between Paulsen, fire and animals. Chapter 5 tells the brief story of a banty hen named Hawk who exhibited an unusual, fierce altruism in protecting chicks that we not her own. Chapter 6 explains the deep mysteries of the woods in a series of short tales. But chapters seven and eight return to Paulsen's deep, emotionally connected experiences with his sledding team. These build up to Part II.

Part II, The Race, is the tale of Paulsen's seventeen day trip in the Iditarod race, a race of dog sledders along a thousand mile trail from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. The race combines many of the insights that Paulsen discusses in Part I and exhibits a huge range of emotional feelings and insights that Paulsen had into himself and his dogs. He completes the race but not without incredibly frightening conflicts and near-death experiences. His experience is so profound that he promises to do what he never imagined - running the race again.

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This section contains 447 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Woodsong Study Guide
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