The Sea-Wolf

by

Jack London

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Wind Symbol Icon

Wind, which is often important to sailors, plays a key role in several of the events in The Sea-Wolf, and its unpredictable nature helps to portray how sailors—and humans in general—are subject to random chance. Perhaps one of the most fateful cases of wind’s influence occurs when Humphrey Van Weyden and Maud Brewster are trying to escape the cruel captain Wolf Larsen, only to have an unexpected, unfavorable wind strand them on a deserted island instead. Generally, wind represents an obstacle or potential danger. However, wind can also assume a more benevolent role. At the very end of the story, for example, the stormy sea becomes calm after the death of Wolf Larsen, and this calm weather allows Van Weyden and Brewster to finally be rescued by a large ship from the U.S. that spots them. Wind’s variable influence, therefore, suggests that random chance can be both a positive and a negative influence on humanity. Wind also shows how characters are feeling internally. The novel sometimes refers to Wolf Larsen’s bad moods as “squalls” (periods with heavy wind), and stormy weather conditions with high wind accompany many of the story’s darkest psychological moments.

Wind Quotes in The Sea-Wolf

The The Sea-Wolf quotes below all refer to the symbol of Wind. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
).
Chapter 2 Quotes

Then a most surprising thing occurred. The captain broke loose upon the dead man like a thunderclap. Oaths rolled from his lips in a continuous stream. And they were not namby-pamby oaths, or mere expressions of indecency. Each word was a blasphemy, and there were many words. They crisped and crackled like electric sparks.

Related Characters: Humphrey Van Weyden (speaker), Wolf Larsen
Related Symbols: Wind
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“I don’t think it was worth it,” I said to Wolf Larsen, “a broken boat for Kelly’s life.”

“But Kelly didn’t amount to much,” was the reply. “Good-night.”

Related Characters: Humphrey Van Weyden (speaker), Wolf Larsen (speaker)
Related Symbols: Wind
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

I looked at my watch. It was one o’clock. I had slept seven hours! And she had been steering seven hours! When I took the steering-oar I had first to unbend her cramped fingers. Her modicum of strength had been exhausted, and she was unable even to move from her position. I was compelled to let go the sheet while I helped her to the nest of blankets and chafed her hands and arms.

Related Characters: Humphrey Van Weyden (speaker), Maud Brewster, Wolf Larsen
Related Symbols: Wind
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

“One kiss, dear love,” I whispered. “One kiss more before they come.”

“And rescue us from ourselves,” she completed, with a most adorable smile, whimsical as I had never seen it, for it was whimsical with love.

Related Characters: Humphrey Van Weyden (speaker), Maud Brewster (speaker), Wolf Larsen
Related Symbols: Wind
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Sea-Wolf LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Sea-Wolf PDF

Wind Symbol Timeline in The Sea-Wolf

The timeline below shows where the symbol Wind appears in The Sea-Wolf. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
...that he hears another boat coming right for them—it can’t hear the Martinez because the wind is blowing the wrong way. Just then, the fog breaks, and the bow of another... (full context)
Chapter 6
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
The wind nearly blows Harrison off the halyard, but he catches himself.  He remains up there for... (full context)
Chapter 7
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
After three days of changing winds, the Ghost finally gets some favorable winds and begins to move quickly. Van Weyden marvels... (full context)
Chapter 17
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 27
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
With good wind, Van Weyden and Maud Brewster are five days away from Japan, but if it storms... (full context)
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
...surprised to find that Maud Brewster has been steering the whole time. Soon, however, the wind begins to blow the wrong way, forcing them to drop anchor. Van Weyden fears that... (full context)
Chapter 32
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Van Weyden wakes up feeling that something is missing—he realizes that what’s missing is the wind. He goes outside his cabin and is shocked to find the Ghost. (full context)
Chapter 39
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
...to leave Endeavour Island. They bid the island farewell and head off with a heavy wind. Because Van Weyden is the only one strong enough to handle the wheel at such... (full context)
Self-Reliance and Maturation Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Idealism Theme Icon
Survival of the Fittest Theme Icon
Love, Duty, and Choice Theme Icon
Van Weyden and Maud Brewster continue to experience strong winds, and the conditions push the limits of Van Weyden’s physical endurance. One morning, Van Weyden... (full context)