The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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The Sea-Wolf: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Wolf Larsen distributes whiskey to his crew while Van Weyden treats the newly wounded. Wolf Larsen’s victory over Death Larsen seems to put him in a good mood.
Again, Death Larsen’s name has a double meaning. Wolf Larsen celebrates overcoming Death, but he also celebrates overcoming death.
Themes
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Wolf Larsen, Van Weyden, and Maud Brewster talk about why humans do things; Wolf Larsen argues that desire motivates people, but Maude Brewster thinks that the soul is really what determines a person’s behavior. Van Weyden says they’re both right and that desire and the soul are the same thing.
This conversation illustrates how Van Weyden has changed from his time on the Ghost. At the beginning of his journey, he was the opposite of Larsen, but Maud Brewster’s arrival and with how Van Weyden has changed from being a sailor, he now finds himself in the middle between Larsen and Brewster.
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, Maud Brewster, and Van Weyden continue to discuss philosophy and literature, including the figure of Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Wolf Larsen defends Lucifer, and Maud Brewster says that Wolf Larsen is Lucifer.
Lucifer (the character in Milton’s Paradise Lost, which retells the Biblical creation story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) has a reputation as a rebel and an individualist. Though Satan is the villain of the original story, some later writers and critics have interpreted Milton’s Satan more sympathetically, either as a tragic figure or even as a hero. Wolf Larsen seems to share the view of some of these later critics, seeing Lucifer as a character who represents self-reliance (as well as rejection of God).  
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
Wolf Larsen says he’ll go relieve Louis on the wheel and suggests that Van Weyden go to bed. But after Van Weyden goes to bed, he wakes up and goes out, only to find Maud Brewster struggling to get out of the embrace of Wolf Larsen. Van Weyden draws his knife and strikes a glancing blow on Wolf Larsen’s shoulder blade. Van Weyden prepares to deliver a more serious blow, but Maud Brewster urges him to stop.
Once again, Wolf Larsen’s moods are mysterious—it doesn’t make sense that Wolf would assault Maud Brewster so soon after they’ve had a pleasant conversation. This passage also recalls the earlier passage where Larsen chokes Van Weyden during an argument. In both situations, Larsen resorts to physical violence when he can’t dominate his opponent mentally.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
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Wolf Larsen seems suddenly much weaker and says he is a sick man, repeating it several times. Van Weyden leads him off to his bunk. Once he has put Wolf Larsen to bed, Van Weyden comes back to Maud Brewster and says that the only thing left for the two of them is to make a 600-mile escape journey in a boat. The steal some supplies, lower a boat, and head for Japan.
While Van Weyden has interpreted Wolf Larsen’s headaches and bad moods as a symptom of melancholy, this passage seems to suggest that Larsen’s ailment might have a physical origin, too. Van Weyden’s decision to escape with Maud Brewster shows that he has internalized Wolf Larsen’s ideas about self-reliance so well that he is ready to leave Larsen himself behind.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon