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The Sea Wolf

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The Sea-Wolf

In the year 1893, a man by the name Humphrey Van Weyden sets off on a journey on a ferry called the Martinez. Humphrey’s is later nicknamed Hump. Hump’s journey took a negative turn, and the Martinez gets involved in a collision. The ferry is set off course and is shipwrecked in the Bay of San Francisco. Hump then gets cast into the ocean. He is swept about by the sea waves almost to the point of drowning. A seal hunter called the ghost passes by, reaches to his rescue, and saves him from drowning.

While on the ghost, Hump later becomes conscious and recovers from the ordeal. Upon gaining consciousness, he realizes that his body is being roughly handled by a sailor. The cook on board called Thomas Mugridge and the other sailor by the name Mr. Johnson have revived him. They explain to him that they got him out of the waters and took him onboard. Hump changes his soaked clothes with rugged woolen clothes that belong to Mugridge. He then learns that the ships name is the ghost and that it is headed for Japan.

He received the nickname Hump, on the ghost. Hump seeks to be returned on land. He, therefore, approaches Larsen and requests him to be returned to shore but the captain denies his request. After some time, Hump informs them of the boat in San Francisco. He offers to pay them if they agree to return him to the shore. Larsen dismisses his plea stating that he is a drunken sailor. Captain Larsen appoints a sailor by the name Mr. Johansen to be the new mate. He promotes George Leach from being a cabin boy to become a sailor in place of Mr. Johansen. Leach, however, accepts the position after a serious beating because he did not want to be promoted to sailor. He then complies to avoid torment. Larsen then instructs Hump to be the new cabin boy.

Hump goes through a series of trying events while on the ghost. He does not like the fact that the captain denied returning him to shore. He was, therefore, in a difficult situation being stuck in the ship with murderous men. He is stuck doing hard labour in exchange for his safety in the ship. A few men get along well with Hump. The captain claims that he was acting as so towards Hump to teach him to stand on his own feet.

Hump is given the job of cabin boy by a cruel captain nicknamed Wolf Larsen while on the ghost. Hump discovers that even with his cruel and careless personality, Captain Larsen is a smart man and often talks to Hump about psychology and matters of life. He learns that Captain Larsen is an avid reader and that he wants to discuss with Humphrey about the things that he reads. The two discuss moral issues and the existence of humans. Wolf states that morality is an equal to stupidity and that humans have no souls. He states that a man should do what he requires to get what he wants in life. Hump finds himself horrified by the captain’s beliefs and more so his deeds.

These striking conversations between Hump and Larsen make the novel more philosophical than an average adventure story. The series of events that occur onboard the ghost make Humps situation difficult and with this, he thinks of killing captain Larsen. After a few months of sailing on the ghost with the rest of the crew, Hump becomes familiar with the crewmembers and his hate for Larsen develops. After a number of conversations with Captain Larsen, Hump begins to understand the Wolf’s perspective and his hate for him diminishes.

Later in the novel, another crew is rescued from a lifeboat from a nearby shipwreck. Four men are rescued together with a lady called Maud Brewster. Maud and Hump are both writers, and they appear to know each other from their writing works. The Wolf rejects Maud’s request to be taken to shore. Hump and Maud grow to become close friends. Maud and Hump feel that they have been fed up with Larsen’s behavior. They then decide to leave the ghost, and they take a small boat.

After a long sail away, they reach an island and endeavor to symbolize the struggles they have experienced. They survive on the few supplies they had stolen from the ghost. Events take a turn upon a surprise visit by the Wolf. Hump and Maud work on repairing the ghost. Wolf Larsen becomes sick his condition deteriorates, and he becomes paralyzed.

Hump sleeps after a long day’s work. A storm ensues and wakes Hump up from his sleep. He looks for Maud and finds her in Captain Larsen’s room beside the dead Wolf. They then give him a sea burial by throwing him into the sea over the side of the ghost. The two then spot and are spotted by another ship and they know they will be saved (London).

Discussion questions

What is the idea behind the novel the sea wolf?

The novel the sea wolf was written by author, Jack London (Theroux 3). The novel’s main character is called Humphrey Van Weyden who sets sail and experiences a shipwreck on his ship. He is rescued by some sailors aboard a ship called the ghost. This series of events leads him to a difficult time onboard this ship. The sea Wolf is a story of misfortune, morality, romance and adventure (Sisson 3). It is about a man who tries to fend for himself in a hostile environment. He attempts to maintain his moral standing in this environment even though he is surrounded by men who dismiss moral responsibility.

What are the events that led to Humphrey ending up in the ghost?

In the beginning of the novel, the sea Wolf, Humphrey also nicknamed as Hump, sets off for his journey in a ferry in the Bay of San Francisco (Scalfaro 138). The ferry steamer he is on fails to spot an oncoming boat amidst the fog. This causes the two vessels to collide, and the ferry begins to sink. Hump is cast into the rough waters of the bay and is tossed by the waves. Being an inexperienced swimmer, he struggles for survival. Fortunately, a seal hunter comes to his rescue, and he is saved from the experience (Heinemann 1). He is taken onboard the boat called the ghost where he is then revived, roughed up and given some clothes to change.

Why is captain Larsen nicknamed as Wolf Larsen?

Wolf Larsen is a main character in the novel. The name of the novel is derived from his name Wolf Larsen. He is the Captain of the seal hunter, the ghost. He is introduced thoroughly as a rough and rugged man who is extremely terrifying (Pitcher 43). In Humphrey’s first impression of the captain, he does not know what to think of him but has a feeling about him that he does not like. He is characterized as cruel, and his negative character is shown through the novel (Carl 1).

What is Captain Larsen’s philosophical view?

Wolf is described as philosophical, and an avid reader. He, however, has very negative views regarding life. He believes that humans have no souls and that morality is a close equal to stupidity (Carl 2). He also believes that a man should do what it takes to get whatever he wants in the world as seen in his discussions with Hump. Hump is terrified by his beliefs.

What was Humps duty onboard? Why was he assigned a duty after being rescued?

Wolf Larsen promoted a sailor called Mr. Johansen to be mate. He then forcefully promotes George Leach to take up Johansen’s sailor position by badly beating him upon his hesitation. Hump is then assigned Leach’s duty of cabin boy, which he rejects. He is asked to keep his job as payment for his safety onboard (Heinemann 2).

How was life onboard the ghost under Captain Larsen?

The people who have being rescued and taken onboard the ghost find it difficult adjusting to life on this ship (Walker 5). This is because of the conditions set on the boat and the character of the people onboard. It is hard to deal with the crew as they are described as murderous people. The captain of the ship is an unbearable man who sets very stringent regulations. He would have people severely beaten up if they do not follow to his orders.

Vocabulary and concepts

There are many vocabularies used in the sea Wolf and the following meanings will assist in reading the novel.

Vernacular refers to a distinctive language for a group of people.

Palavering is talking uselessly or in an unconstructive manner.

Hedonist is someone whose life mainly involves the pursuit of pleasure. It can also be used to describe a person who has no moral values.

Sanguinary is something that is bloody.

Ethereally refers to something that is extremely delicate.
Temporized refers to being indecisive in order to delay time or evade a decision.
Chagrin is a feeling of humiliation or embarrassment.
Aureole is a glow surrounding a figure to represent a sacred personage.
Quandary is a state of uncertainty such as a dilemma.
Saturnalia refers to merrymaking without any restrictions.
Penitent refers to a feeling of expression of sorrow for committing a wrongful act and amending to make things right.
Vexation is the state of feeling annoyed or irritated.
Sojourning is to stay in a place temporarily or for a short period.
Prodigious refers to something that is extraordinary in terms of degree, force, quality or quantity.
Tacit refers to something being implied.
Solicitude refers to the state of being in anxiety or concerned.
Inexpedient refers to something that is unsuitable.
Tremulous is a situation characterized by shaking as a result of fear or weakness.
Tenacious is holding firmly on to something or someone. It also refers to being persistent.
Fetters are shackles tied to the feet.
Sepulture refers to an act of placing a body in a tomb or burial.
Nietzsche is the name of a German philosopher.
Incessantly is the situation whereby unpleasant thing continuously occur.
Obscurity refers to the state of not being known.
Mused is to be absorbed in deep thought.
Interminable refers to something that is endless or exaggerated.
Effeminate refers to a man bearing unmanly thoughts.
Globules are small rounded particles of something.
Alacrity is the state of being eager.
Salient refers to something that is important.
Debauch is the state of being corrupt
Sardonic is to mock.
Arrant is to do something without moderation.
Saturnine is being melancholic or sad.
Ominous refers to threatening someone.
Vociferating is the act of crying aloud.
Inauspiciously means not bearing favorable circumstances.
Effervescence means being in high spirits.
Anachronism refers to something that is not orderly.
Altruistic refers to an unselfish concern for others.
Acerations refers to the act of tearing something roughly.
Abject means sinking to a lower condition.
Precarious refers to the dependability on the pleasure of others.
Punctilious means concerning rules.
Unalloyed refers to something that is pure.
Debounced refers to marching into open ground.
Morose refers to the state of being gloomy.
Recipice refers to a very steep place.
Scintillating refers to having knowledge of something.
Cognizant is something that emits sparks.
Indubitably refers to being beyond doubt.
Pandemonium refers to a wild uproar.
Ensconced is something that is settled comfortably.
Unerring is being incapable to cause era.
Pertinaciously is something that is continuous and not stopping.
These vocabularies help in knowing the meanings of some word used in the novel.

Works Cited

Carl, Eric. "The Five Deaths of Wolf Larsen." Project Muse (2010): 1-3.

Heinemann. "The Sea Wolf by Jack London." The Guardian (1904): 1-2.

London, Jack. THE SEA-WOLF. Macmillan, 1904.

Pitcher, W Edward. "The Sea-Wolf: Jack London's Swinish Title." ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews (2003): 42-44.

Scalfaro, M Wendy. "Bunting, Eve. the Voyage of the Sea Wolf." School Library Journal (2012): 135-138.

Sisson, James Edward. "JACK LONDON: THE VARIABLE IN MY LIFE." The World of Jack London (1979): 1-4.

Theroux, Alexander. "Back From the Beyond." Wall Street Journal (2010): 1-6.

Walker, L Dale. "“I turn out each morning a thousand words of fiction"." Jack London: The stories (2002): 1-7.…...

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