The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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The Sea-Wolf: Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Wolf Larsen writes to Van Weyden that his left side is going too; soon, he will be fully paralyzed. Later, he painfully writes “But I am still here, all here,” in text that is difficult to read. Maud Brewster asks Wolf Larsen if he has used his new concentration to contemplate the idea of immortality, but Wolf simply writes in big letters “B-O-S-H.”
“Bosh” is British slang that basically means “nonsense.” By writing “bosh,” Wolf Larsen is indicating that he still doesn’t believe in the idea of souls or immortal life. Perhaps he is even suggesting that life itself is “bosh,” meaning that in the end, life is meaningless to him—a sentiment that he expressed often, when he could still speak.
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
Van Weyden asks Wolf Larsen if he can still hear, and Wolf doesn’t respond, suggesting that both arms are now fully paralyzed. Wolf’s lip, however, still moves just a little. Van Weyden and Maud Brewster ask Wolf questions about food and confirm that he can still hear and respond to them.
Wolf Larsen’s tiny lip movements illustrate how determined he is to hold onto life, even as death becomes inevitable.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
Maud Brewster says she wishes everything would end soon, saying that she is only “one, small woman.” Van Weyden recognizes the phrase and asks where she got it; Maud suggests she might have heard Van Weyden use it in his sleep. It was also the name her father called her mother.
Wolf Larsen seems to be the final obstacle between Brewster and Van Weyden and freedom. Now that Larsen is almost dead, they can begin to think of their life on land again.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
Van Weyden and Maud Brewster finish up with the sails. Van Weyden checks in on the weakening Wolf Larsen and asks him if he’s still there: Wolf’s lips move for the last time to say “Yes.”
When Wolf Larsen says that he’s still there, he is literally answering Van Weyden’s question, but he is also reaffirming his belief that his whole identity is trapped in his weakened body (and that there is no soul or part of himself that isn’t inside the body)
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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