As an adolescent, Jack London led an impoverished life and struggled to earn more money to support himself and his mother. In an attempt to find a small fortune, London joined the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. Unfortunately, he returned home penniless. However, his adventures in the Yukon provided him the most epic experiences that guided him into writing some of his most famous, widely acclaimed literary works. His novels focus primarily on naturalism, a type of literature in which the characters are shaped by their environment through the practice of scientific principles. The author centralizes his themes around this literary technique. Jack London’s naturalistic portrayal of his characters explores the brutal truth of humans versus animals and the struggle for survival.
Jack London’s use of an animal’s perspective allows the readers to fully understand how the harsh landscapes of the Klondike influenced the individual; this strategy exemplifies the naturalism evident among many of his works. For example, in London’s The Call of the Wild, the environmental conditions that occur shape the main character’s destiny and his inability to control these changes. The protagonist is a dog named Buck who is forced to adapt to the austere conditions of the Yukon after being stolen from his pampered life in civilization and sold to a sled team en route to the Klondike Gold Rush. This journey proves to be extremely difficult when Buck faces several obstacles, such as being beaten with a club and the fierce rivalry between him and the nefarious pack leader Spitz. “Yet, by following his instincts, Buck takes his readers to the deepest reaches of the mind…” (“London, Jack”). He cannot control his fate; ...
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... at these low temperatures and tries to hold back. The man ushers on and because of his foolish ego, he falls victim to it and freezes to death. In this story, the man’s arrogant choice to counter the dangerous terrain of the Yukon reveals that nature cannot be tamed under any circumstances. “The animal, a creature of instinct untainted by pride, is better adapted to the environment than the man” (Welsh).
Famous for being an influential, key author in American literature, Jack London’s literary works resemble an accurate depiction of the rigid setting and reality of nature that reflects his own adventures in the Yukon. Because of his naturalistic ideals, the audience is able to examine the beliefs of Darwin and how it plays an important role in survival. Thus, London takes another step into the genre of adventure stories that drive him toward his ultimate success.
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