The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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The Sea-Wolf: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Van Weyden gets three days of rest. During this time, he eats with Wolf Larsen and has discussions with him, and Mugridge continues to wait on them. Louis warns Van Weyden that Wolf’s mood varies like the weather. Sure enough, during a heated discussion, Van Weyden sees the wild side of Wolf, who leaps up to grab Van Weyden’s arm. Though the calm doesn’t last, Van Weyden is grateful to have had three days of rest.
This passage shows how Wolf Larsen’s unpredictable moods have the potential to benefit Van Weyden—Larsen’s temporary good mood allows Van Weyden to move above Mugridge on the social ladder and grants him three days of rest.  Nevertheless, Larsen remains unpredictable, and when he violently grips Van Weyden’s arm, Van Weyden sees that he must never his guard down around Larsen.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
As time passes, Van Weyden begins to think that Mugridge is going mad. Wolf Larsen taunts Van Weyden about his fear, saying that even if Mugridge kills him, it will just get him to heaven faster, since Van Weyden believes in eternal life. Better yet, suggests Wolf Larsen, why doesn’t Van Weyden help Mugridge get to heaven?
Wolf Larsen may be partly joking as he taunts Van Weyden to kill Mugridge, but the joke underscores the fact that Larsen places little value on human 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
With no help from Wolf Larsen, Van Weyden continues to manage his tense situation with Mugridge, who very publicly sharpens his knife in the galley. Van Weyden resolves to stop calling Mugridge sir and stop doing extra work for him.
Van Weyden begins to take his first steps toward becoming self-reliant. The fact that Mugridge is sharpening his knife suggests that becoming self-reliant will involve challenges and perhaps even violence.
Themes
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon