The Sea Wolf by Jack London

The Sea-Wolf - Kindle edition by London, Jack. Literature ...

“The Sea Wolf” is a novel written by American writer Jack London. The novel depicts a heart-wrenching battle and an unforgettable love story on board a sealing-hunting sailing ship called the “Ghost”. The “Wolf” in the novel is not only the name of Captain Larsen, but also the synonym of superman for the author. Through the novel, the author leads the readers into the callousness of the wild life and feels the dark side of the brutal human nature and the brightness of the primitive life. At the same time, it also exposes the disadvantages of the capitalist society and shows the praise for the strong will of the working people and the sympathy for the suffering life.

On the “Ghost” , there is no legal order, no distinction between good and evil, no humanity, let alone the most true and most beautiful human emotions. The life of a seaman was like an ant to him, and whoever he wanted to die had to die. Larsen became the most loyal follower and the most powerful enforcer of Darwinism. The crew he recruited on the sea were only salaried slaves. The seal hunter was his accomplice. The shipwrecked people he rescued became his cheap labor force to fill the gap. He not only swore at the death of his former first mate, but roughly buried him and threw him into the sea. When Harrison, a new sailor, got caught by a high mast, his life was in danger; however, Larsen wouldn’t let anyone go up and help him.

To fill the void, he forced Weyden, whom he had rescued from the ship, to come and work for him. Under the tyrant’s rule and influence, the rest of the crew became rough and brutal. Thomas whet his knife at Weyden all day long, but Weyden, not to be outdone, took his knife to the grindstone all day long, and at last won. Johnson was beaten black and blue for saying something that offended Larson, and Leach, the sailor, swore at Larsen and then beat up the good cook. In Larsen’s world, violence against violence is the law of existence.

Many progressive male intellectuals, including the writer Jack London, supported and championed feminism and expressed their desire for social change;however, traditional ideas are in deep ideological conflict and often bring them back to the desire for traditional power relations. In “The Sea Wolf” we can see a certain disharmony: one comes from the writer’s consciously expressed ideas, the other from the writer’s unconscious desires; one is the principle of gender politics, the other is the pragmatism of social life. The two tendencies interweave together, making the novel a contradictory text.

-Coreen C.

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