Not exceed ½ page. Write at least ½ page response to each section’s questions

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Young Men and Fire, by Norman Maclean

Journal Assignment

For each journal:

1. Write a ½ page summary of the major events, characters, themes, etc. of the section. This should NOT exceed ½ page.

2. Write at least ½ page response to each section’s questions.

3. Label the journal entry with the chapter number and date.
Every week, I will conference with you individually in class to discuss your journal. Points earned will be assessed based on the quality of your journal entries and your responses during the conference. Each conference is worth a maximum of 20 points. Reading assignments average approximately 15 pages per day.
Week 1: April 13-April 20
Read pp. 3-139
Questions: In what ways is Maclean's story of the Mann Gulch Fire also the story of the telling of the story of the Mann Gulch Fire?

Who are the ghosts in the story? What makes them ghosts?

Who are the storytellers? How do we know what we know about them?

In what ways does Maclean present this story as a tragedy? (To answer this question, think about the literary conventions of "tragedy" rather than simply a sad event.) What makes the story of Mann Gulch (in these literary terms) a tragedy? Could this story have been written in a way that would not make it (stylistically) a tragedy?

What is this story about? Is it also a story of something else not directly related to the fire itself? In what ways is the story of the fire an allegorical story about something seemingly unrelated?
Week 2: April 21-April 28
Read pp. 143-289
Questions: At one point Maclean writes that the story of Mann Gulch, though difficult to find, "will not have to be made up -- that is all-important to us -- but we do have to know in what odd places to look for missing parts of a story about a wildfire and of course we have to know a story and a wildfire when we see one." What does Maclean do to find the story? How does he come to know the story of Mann Gulch, and how does he come to know it as a story and to know wildfires?

Who are the heroes of this story? What makes them particularly heroic?

Week 3: April 29-May 4
Read pp. 293-301
Questions: In the end, what does Maclean learn about Mann Gulch? Remembering he was a minister's son, and learned to tell stories from one who preached sermons, what would be the lesson of this story for Maclean?

What does Norman Maclean conclude about the Mann Gulch Fire? Who was responsible for the young men's deaths?

Clearly, the point of this story is not simply to answer "whodunnit" or to assign blame, although that is part of the story. What is the ultimate "point" of Maclean's telling the story of the Mann Gulch Fire?


Other resources (available on

  1. Helpful Links/

  2. AP Language/Handouts/IntroMannGulchReport

Questions adapted from:

Lavendar, Catherine. “Norman Maclean: Young Men and Fire. The College of Staten Island of the City University of
New York. n.d. web. 26 February 2011.

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