The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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The Sea-Wolf: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Van Weyden is surprised that not much happens on the Ghost at first. He is also shocked to witness the slaughter of seals, all so that wealthy women can wear the skin.
The slaughter of the seals represents the hidden but violent work that the lower classes must carry out so that the upper classes can enjoy frivolous luxuries.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
One day, dark clouds start approaching. Wolf Larsen commands Van Weyden to get ready while the sea is still calm. Soon, however, the storm picks up. Wolf Larsen lets Van Weyden handle the wheel and instructs him on what to do. Wind buffets the Ghost, and the ship seems in constant danger of sinking.
The rising winds and brewing storm foreshadow danger ahead. This also offers another instance in which the weather  mirrors Wolf Larsen’s mood—here, the brewing storm mirrors the inner turmoil of Larsen’s chaotic mind.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
The storm gets even worse. A sailor dies while attempting to save a small hunting boat that has been broken. Eventually, the Ghost’s crew manages to bring the men aboard. Later, Van Weyden tells Wolf Larsen that he doesn’t think the broken boat was worth a man’s life, but Wolf Larsen replies that the man’s life wasn’t worth much.
Van Weyden and Wolf Larsen have talked about the value of life in philosophical terms—but this scene proves that  Larsen’s philosophical disregard extends to reality, as well.
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