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Back to the Klondike

Back to the Klondike is a Donald Duck comic strip story written by Carl Barks in March, 1953. Scrooge McDuck returns to Klondike where he has made his fortune, bringing Donald and the three nephews along, to find back gold he has left there.

Plot

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

At the beginning of the story Scrooge McDuck seems to be suffering from memory lapses to the point he can not even recognize Donald. Donald drags him to a doctor and Scrooge is given some pills supposed to help recover his memory. As his memory returns Scrooge suddenly starts planning to return to Klondike, the place of his youth where he earned his wealth. As he tells Donald and his nephews who accompany him he has left a cargo of gold, buried near his old hut. Scrooge also begins to make references to "Glittering Goldie", a person of his past.

As Scrooge seems to relive his past, but feeling his age, they arrive in Dawson, where Scrooge explains how he and Goldie met. The journey continues till they reach his old hut and to their surprise it is occupied and the current occupant forcibly resists any of their attempts to approach. Finally the nephews manage to surprise and disarm the old lady behind the attack, Goldie herself. As Scrooge and Goldie meet again both a rivalry and an attraction to each other seem to resurface. But Scrooge demands an old debt that Goldie can not pay. She gives her last jewelry to Scrooge and just leaves, apparently quitting. But Scrooge calls her back and challenges her to a contest. A contest of who can find gold first.

Goldie succeeds in finding Scrooge's old cargo that is now worth a fortune. After more than fifty years she succeeded. Scrooge leaves seemingly defeated and pretending that because he hadn't taken his pills he had forgotten where the gold was. But behind his back Donald reveals to his nephews that Scrooge had indeed taken the pills and practicaly offered this gold to Goldie. By the end his nephews realise that Scrooge is more emotional than he would like to appear.

Analysis

Barks had an interest in Klondike and scenes of this story were inspired by old Klondike tales. But this story is most important for its contribution to the development of Scrooge's personality, and way of thought. Scrooge's participation in the Klondike Gold Rush had been mentioned before but this is the first time Klondike becomes an essential part of Scrooge's past. In later stories by both Barks and his "successors" references to Scrooge's past in Klondike appear even more often than those to his native Scotland.

The story presents the first appearance of Goldie O'Gilt (Glittering Goldie), her love/hate relationship with Scrooge is considered a great part of the two characters' appeal. The story is the first focusing on Scrooge's love life and the last by Barks. But his "successors" would further develop this relationship with Goldie and the love/hate theme largely defines his relationships with the opposite gender including those with Brigitta McBridge and, to a point, with Magica DeSpell.

Another theme introduced in this story is that Scrooge puts concious efforts to hide or deny his own feelings and emotions because he doesn't want to appear vulnerable. This has become an essential part of the character's way of thinking and acting in subsequent stories. Often mentioned as one of Barks' strongest stories it largely defines Scrooge's character and the themes introduced here are now considered part of a tradition.



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