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The Sea Wolf
The Sea Wolf by Jack London

By: Jack London (1876-1916)

A maritime classic acclaimed for its exciting adventure, The Sea Wolf offers a thrilling tale of life at sea, while exploring the many difficulties that may erupt on board a ship captained by a brutally hedonistic and controlling individual. Additionally, the psychological adventure novel covers several themes including mutiny, existentialism, individualism, brutality, and the intrinsic will to survive.

The novel sets into motion when its protagonist, the soft and cultivated scholar Humphrey van Weyden, is witness to a precarious collision between his ferry and another ship. Consequently, the accident causes the ferry to sink and sets Weyden adrift in the San Francisco Bay, but before long, he is picked up by a seal-hunting vessel headed for Japan. As Weyden finds himself aboard the Ghost, he is promptly greeted by its vile captain, Wolf Larson. An autodidact sailor, Larson is presented as a pitiless and single-minded individual, who rules over his crew with the help of his extraordinary physical strength and the pure terror he emits. Accordingly, he brushes aside Weyden’s request to be taken ashore, and instead forces him into the position of cabin boy, which is accompanied by menial work and contact with the similarly brutal crew. As Weyden spends time on board the vessel, he comes to learn some of the captain’s enigmatic philosophies, which include survival of the fittest, a disregard for the human soul, an individualistic stance, and a life guided by the acquisition of pleasure alone. Left with the choice to either work or die, Weyden must endure terrifying ordeals aboard the ship, which incidentally never seem to diminish. Furthermore, he must grow from his cowardly idealistic ways if he is to even stand a chance at life among the crew, let alone escape from the grasps of the despotic Larson.

London’s vivid portrayal of his most memorable character, Wolf Larson, will most definitely entice the reader to learn more about his cynical incentives and his complex set of ideas. Moreover, Larson has the strange ability to rouse sympathy from the audience with his highly defined masculinity and philosophies, which at times may just outshine his decadence. A novel certain to enthrall with it never-ending supply of action, The Sea Wolf is the perfect pick for those longing to set on a more dangerous voyage.

01 – I scarcely know where to begin
02 – I seemed swinging in a mighty rhythm
03 – Wolf Larsen ceased swearing
04 – What happened to me next
05 – But my first night in the hunters’ steerage
06 – By the following morning the storm
07 – At last, after three nights of variable winds
08 – Sometimes I think Wolf Larson mad
09 – Three days of rest, three blessed days
10 – My intimacy with Wolf Larson increases
11 – The Ghost has attained the southernmost point
12 – The last twenty-four hours have witnessed
13 – For three days I did my own work
14 – It has dawned upon me that I have never
15 – There was a deal of cursing and groaning
16 – I cannot say that the position of mate
17 – Strange to say, in spite of the general foreboding
18 – The next day, while the storm was blowing
19 – I came on deck to find the Ghost heading up
20 – The remainder of the day passed uneventfully
21 – The chagrin Wolf Larson felt from being ignored
22 – I knew what it was as she came toward me
23 – Brave winds, blowing fair, swiftly drove
24 – Among the most vivid memories of my life
25 – You’ve been on deck, Mr. Van Weyden
26 – Wolf Larsen took the distribution of the whiskey
27 – Day broke, grey and chill
28 – There is no need of going into an extended recital
29 – ‘Fool!’ I cried aloud in my vexation
30 – No wonder we called it Endeavour Island
31 – It will smell, I said
32 – I awoke, oppressed by a mysterious sensation
33 – We waited all day for Wolf Larsen to come ashore
34 – It’s too bad the Ghost has lost her masts
35 – Next day, the mast-steps clear
36 – For two days Maud and I ranged the sea
37 – At once we moved aboard the Ghost
38 – I think my left side is going
39 – The day came for our departure.
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