(Note: questions 1-6 are taken from the study guide on Bookrags.)
1. How do you think the expedition was thought of 'back home' in England, in the midst of World War I?
2. On one occasion Shackleton refused to allow his men to bring in a few seals that they had shot earlier in the day—he considered their retrieval too risky due to the conditions on the ice. Several weeks later, facing severely restricted rations, many of the men thought Shackleton's decision to have been foolish or incorrect. In retrospect, do you think Shackleton made the right decision?
3. Consider the social and historic legacy of Shackleton's expedition. How did the failure of the expedition change the political and scientific world? How did the triumphant survival of all of the members of the expedition change people's larger attitudes about polar exploration?
4. The text functions remarkably well as journalistic history. Do you think the text could function equally well as a novel? Why or why not?
5. What was your favorite section of the book and why? Reference particular scenes.
6. Write a character analysis of Ernest Shackleton. Consider his motivations, his strengths, his leadership style, and his weaknesses. Does his egotism ever endanger his crew? Are all his choices justified? What drives him? What are his key choices that saves the crew? Where does he make some poor choices?
7. Put yourself in the mind of one of the crewman and write an entry or entries in a diary during part of the journey. Retell scenes from the book and have your character reflect on the journey and on Shackleton or other members of the crew.
8. What lessons in leadership and teamwork did you learn from this book? Reference specific scenes.
9. Write an essay discussing when explorations such as Shackleton’s are justifiable and valuable for the betterment of humanity and when they border on egotism and arrogance. In the essay consider what you think drove Shackleton to become an explorer and specifically go to Antarctica to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. Who are the Shackletons of today and what are they exploring? What explorations in the past were crucial for civilization? Which ones, if any, were foolhardy?