- Where was Sam McGee’s hometown?
His home town was in Tennessee.
- Why was Sam traveling in the Arctic?
The gold rush.
- What was the last request that Sam made to Cap?
His last request was for Cap to cremate his body.
- How did Cap feel about his promise after some time had passed?
He started to feel very tired of carrying the body.
- What happened to Cap’s sled dogs? How did this make things worse for Cap?
His dogs were spent, so they were tired as well. This means that they couldn’t pull the sled anymore.
- Why was Cap unable to cremate Sam’s remains in the wilderness?
He wasn’t able to, because there was no fuel to use to start the fire.
- Where did Cap ultimately cremate Sam’s remains?
He cremated Sam on Lake Labarge in the ship Alice May.
- Hours after placing Sam’s body in the boiler, Cap looked inside. What did he see?
He saw Sam Mcgee smiling and he said “please close that door…”
The Cremation of Sam McGee
Critical Thinking Questions
Complete these questions on your own and in full sentences.
- You know that theme is the message the author wants you, the reader, to walk away from this poem with. What is the message/theme Robert Service is trying to share with you? Be able to support your theme with evidence from the poem.
I think the message of the poem is that you should always honor and respect your friends, even in death. In the poem, Cap still kept his promise to Sam even though he was starving and freezing. “The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in.” He persevered even though he felt like giving up. “Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no.”
- What does this passage mean to you, “In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load!”
I think it means that even though Cap wanted to keep his promise to Sam, sometimes he wished he could just leave his body instead of carrying it. It added a lot of extra weight to the sleigh which made it harder to move. It probably took longer too.
- In your opinion, why didn’t Cap go back on his promise? Sam would have never known!
I think Cap didn’t go back on his promise because he wanted to honor Sam McGee. Sam was his friend, and if he was alive, he would’ve wanted Cap to keep his promise.
- What really happened when Cap opened that boiler? Did he really see the ghost of Sam? Was he hallucinating? What do you think, and why do you think this?
I think maybe he was hallucinating because it’s impossible for someone to come back to life. I think it was a metaphor that Sam’s spirit was finally at rest and warm after being cold for so long.