Winterdance (Paulsen)

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1. Given the inhuman conditions and hardships, what is behind Paulsen's obsessive drive to complete the Iditarod? In light of his inexperience, do you find his ambition admirable, selfish, mad ... or what?

2. What lessons does Paulsen's self-training episodes teach him? How well do those lessons work during the actual race?

3. To what extent is the race about the dogs, as Paulsen says, or about human skill in running them?

4. What knowledge does Paulsen gain during the race—about the race, the dogs, the Alaskan wilderness, and most of all about himself?

5. What about those who cheat...especially the one who has pizza delivered by a friend on a snowmobile?

6.The Iditarod has generated controversy regarding the sometimes maltreatment of the sled dogs. Although no fingers are pointed at Paulsen, who clearly treats his dogs with love and respect, The Sled Dog Action Coalition* has raised disturbing issues about abuse in general. You might do a little research and decide for yourself where you stand.

(Questions by LiLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

* In June, 2012, a LitLovers reader emailed the following: 

The Sled Dog Action Coalition is known to be negative, untruthful, and has no known positive support for sled dogs other than a vicious internet campaign attacking people and schools.  I suggest you consider removing reference to the group (although the thought behind the question itself is certainly fair).  For more information, please see:

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