I Survived The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 By Lauren tarShis and Presented By mark knill

About The Author

The author of the book I Survived The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 is Lauren Tarshis. Lauren was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the editor for the Scholastic's Story Works magazine. She is also the author of the New York Times and USA today-bestselling I Survived series. She currently lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Plot Summary


The book starts out in 1871 with an eleven year old boy named Oscar Starling who was on a train to Chicago. Mr. Morrow was a local newspaper writer from Chicago who was painting a picture of Oscar and his mom's barn for many weeks. When he was finished painting the picture, he asked Oscar's mom to marry him. (Oscar's Dad a policeman, had died)

Rising Action

Oscar's mother said yes to getting married. So Oscar and his mom sold their land and farm and got on a train to Chicago, even though Oscar never wanted to go to the big city. When Oscar got off the train he tried to help a little lost girl, but while he was distracted, the family's suitcases were stolen. The police came but their bags could not be found. They went to their hotel. Oscar spied the little girl from the train station and he followed her to a house. As he was getting ready to break into the house, he saw flames. He hid in a old chicken coop beside the house.


Oscar had flames on him, so he rolled on the ground. Then the house caught on fire. Following this, Oscar went inside to try and save the kids from the fire. When the children and Oscar got out of the house it seemed like the whole city was on fire. They joined many fleeing people. Oscar tried to head back to the hotel.

Falling Action

Oscar got knocked out in a back alley by a gang who took the kids he was with. Eventually, Oscar found the hotel, but it was on fire too. He was hoping that his mother and Mr.Morrow had made it out safely. Fortunately, Oscar found Mr.Morrow and they escaped the city by boat. They ended up swimming in Lake Michigan to avoid the flames.


Pouring rain put out the fire as Oscar and Mr. Morrow made their way back to Oscar's house and his mother. They were very relieved to be safe. Days later they searched for the missing kids and found them safe in the home of the gangsters. The police arrested the gangsters, one of whom Oscar's father had been chasing for years. They also found the lost suitcases and thousands of dollars. The children went home with Oscar.

Character Analysis

Oscar was the main character in the book. He was brave, strong and determined. Oscar was brave because he went into the burning house to help the kids out. He was strong which was seen when he broke down the door of the burning house to save the children. Finally, Oscar was determined as he went to rescue the children after they were kidnapped.


The flashback in the book happens when Oscar was on the train to Chicago. He thought about his father's life and how he died in a vicious winter blizzard after crashing his wagon into a tree. Oscar also thought about how his father was a sheriff in Dakota Territory and how he had to fight the brutal outlaws. This flashback is important to Oscar and the setting of the story as Oscar constantly wants to return to the prairie. This was his original home and it reminds him of his father.

Conflict Type

The conflict type is Man vs. Man, and Man vs. Nature.

It's Man vs. Man because Oscar is against the gang for beating him up and knocking him out. Oscar is also against Mr. Morrow for bringing him to Chicago.

Also it is Man vs. Nature because Oscar is against the fire in Chicago.


The overall theme is never give up. Oscar never gave up on trying to get out of the fire and he never gave up on trying to find the kids after the fire was over.

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