The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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The Sea-Wolf: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Van Weyden becomes closer with Wolf Larsen, though he still believes that Larsen sees him as mostly just a toy. Van Weyden also sees that, despite Wolf Larsen’s power, the captain is lonely because everyone aboard the Ghost fears him.
As Van Weyden gets to know Larsen, he realizes that Larsen is not as fearless as he appears on the surface.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Van Weyden notes that Wolf Larsen is a handsome man with a clean-shaven well-defined face that looks like something from ancient Greece or Rome. Van Weyden asks Wolf Larsen at one point why Larsen isn’t out using her talents for something better—he could be doing great things in the world. Larsen references Jesus’s Parable of the Sower and says he is like one of the seeds that fell on infertile land.
The Parable of the Sower is a story that Jesus tells in the Christian Bible. In the story, Jesus speaks about a farmer who scattered his seeds around his fields. Many of the seeds fell on bad soil that didn’t allow them to survive; only the seeds that fell on good soil were able to grow and prosper. The point of the story is that only people who are prepared to hear the word of God will benefit from it. Wolf Larsen is suggesting that he is like the seeds that fell on bad soil—his conditions haven’t permitted him to flourish and use his smarts for good—and he’s proud of it.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
Wolf Larsen explains to Van Weyden that despite his familiarity with science and literature, he is entirely self-taught. He describes how he became a cabin boy at age 12 in the English merchant service and rose through the ranks. He tells about his brother “Death” Larsen, who is even more brutal and barely reads or writes. Wolf Larsen imagines his brother is happier for not reading.
Wolf Larsen’s self-taught education may have been inspired by Jack London’s own self-taught education. Death Larsen’s fearsome nickname suggests that he is even more violent than Wolf. Perhaps Wolf would have become as cruel as his brother if he hadn’t had the benefit of an education.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
Quotes