The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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The Sea-Wolf: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Ghost heads to fill its water-casks before continuing to the coast of Japan. Van Weyden asks Louis for more information about Death Larsen, and Louis tells him that Wolf Larsen and Death Larsen don’t get along.
Wolf Larsen takes his self-reliance to an extreme, becoming so independent that he doesn’t even get along with family members.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
One day, Van Weyden is surprised to see Wolf Larsen reading the Bible (having finally found one in the possessions of his dead former mate). Wolf Larsen reads aloud from Ecclesiastes. The passage is about how there is “no profit under the sun,” which strikes Wolf Larsen as more pessimistic than anything he himself believes.
Wolf Larsen tries to argue with Van Weyden by using a source that Van Weyden respects (the Bible) to try to justify Larsen’s viewpoint. This passage suggests that Larsen and Van Weyden may perhaps have more in common than it seems, although it also demonstrates Larsen’s tendency to read selectively to find the parts most interesting to him.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Wolf Larsen argues that at some point Van Weyden will start to doubt his immortality and realize that he only has one life on earth to live. Then Wolf Larsen grabs Van Weyden by the throat and chokes him until he passes out. When Van Weyden eventually wakes up, Wolf Larsen asks him if his argument was convincing.
Wolf Larsen’s decision to choke Van Weyden shows that no amount of verbal argument can compete with a stronger foe who is willing to resort to physical violence. This scene is another example of Larsen’s willingness to exercise Darwin’s survival of the fittest concept in his daily life.
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