SESSION 3 Groupwork Incipits

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He has two older brothers, one of which was in the army and is now dead. So he’s a war hero. We don’t know anything about the other one. His parents are not poor because they paid for his education.

He doesn’t get on well with his parents.

He doesn’t want to study or go to law school.

He wants to travel abroad, sail away to a new, undiscovered land.

The words ‘Fatal’ and ‘misery’ indicate that his story has a bad ending.

This story is the original story in the genre of Voyage and Return stories. So we have to read it to understand the more modern versions. Also, the first chapter creates suspense. We know that the narrator will be faced with trouble and adventure. The language doesn’t seem too hard, but it’s an old text so we will need a dictionary.

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The story takes place in Alaska. The characters are on the road to Denali Park, four miles away from Fairbanks. Then they talk inside a truck. It’s cold outside, the landscape is covered in snow and it’s early in the morning. (‘dawn’: sunrise, break of the day)

There are 3 characters. The first one is Wayne, he is the receiver of a postcard. Alex is the second character, he is a young hitchhiker, he wants to hike alone in Denali Park and he asks Jim for a ride. Jim is the third character, he is older than Alex, he’s a truck driver.

Alex is hitchhiking, walking and waiting for cars to offer him a ride to Denali Park, he wants to cope on his own, away from civilization.

The ‘wild’ is a synonym for jungle or untamed, undomesticated land away from civilization.

Alex’s project is definitely adventurous because he is quite young to live on his own, he will have to find food and stay warm in the Alaskan winter. This is quite a challenge. Also it’s dangerous because he might bump into dangerous animals or fail to keep warm at night. But I agree that this sounds quite exciting too because even if it will be hard and difficult, he will be faced with nature and great landscape far away from modern society’s gadgets and concerns.

We can easily identify with Alex. If you’re interested in the American landscape, you will find a lot of different examples throughout the story. The language is easy to understand. It mixes real documents and fiction. 

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The story takes place in Canada, there’s an anecdote that is set in an Indian restaurant in Canada.

He’s from India, he lived in Pondicherry.

He fainted / lost consciousness / collapsed / blacked out. He was shocked and surprised.

The words sound racist and pejorative. They make the narrator feel uneasy and humiliated because they mean that he’s dirty, that he behaves like a tramp. They also echo his personal experience as he was shipwrecked and forced to cope on a raft in the middle of the sea for a long time.

The tap, fork and knife represent the modern world, civilization and West European lifestyles.

This story is interesting because the book is like a flashback. It starts with the end of the voyage, so we know the narrator is safe but ‘sad and gloomy’. The contemporary issue of immigrants and the struggle to adapt to a new culture is present in this story. The story is told from the point of view of the traveller and tells about his life-changing experience as a boy then as a mature man. The writing is modern so it’s easy to follow.


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