Analysis Of Jack London And Naturalism

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Jack London’s short stories are held in high regard to this day, and are still considered to show the true harshness of mother nature and the ignorance of man. London himself knows all too well the unforgiving vexation of the Klondike Gold Rush, having developed scurvy and an injury that permanently affected the use of his leg. His stories are also influenced by the literary movement of naturalism, which focuses on extreme conditions that shape human mentality. London’s usual writing style consists of very long, drawn out descriptions of the characters or the scene around these characters. A large sum of his stories focus on the instincts of animals and the questionable survival of man in extreme conditions and situations. A recurring theme…show more content…
Naturalistic writers focus on extreme conditions that shape and govern human character. Jack London, a naturalistic writer, places men in such situations. These men do have their characters molded by nature, however, a majority of the time their deaths almost defeat the purpose. Naturalism spans from Darwin’s theory of evolution: “Survival of the fittest”, in that weaker parts of every species will eventually die off, like the ignorant men in these stories. This literary style within stories frequently depicts humans as objective and entitled when contrasted with nature. While London’s stories have many insights into naturalism, they also look into realism. The unnamed man in “To Build a Fire”, believes he has control of his situation and that he will react appropriately to any event that befalls him, whereas naturalism suggests that fate decides a character’s decisions, making them act accordingly. Both of these literary devices are shown contrasted throughout the story. The man states his headstrong thoughts on his predicament after falling through the ice, “All a man had to do was to keep his head, and he was all right” (London 8). This is a very realistic approach, however, as fate changes for worse, he begins to lose his…show more content…
Mankind in London’s stories are displayed as ignorant and without natural survival instincts, often being contrasted to dogs, who do have natural survival instincts. For example, when in “To Build a Fire”, the dog’s instincts were telling it to burrow underground to get away from the negative seventy degree weather, but out of fear of the unnamed man’s whip, ignored these instincts because it knew the man provided fire. Naturalism, an extreme type of realism, is a literary device and a movement focusing on extreme conditions that shape and govern a man’s character. Although the men in these stories do have their characters shaped by their experience, they typically die, almost defeating the purpose. Naturalism spans from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, in that the fittest will survive over the weak. London’s stories have many views into naturalism, but they also have insights into realism. The unnamed man in “To Build a Fire” believes he has control of his situation until mistakes are made and he realizes the odds and fate are against him. Realizing this, the man becomes scared and tries literally running for his life so no avail, so he slowly freezes to death after slipping into a deep slumber. The man, Mason, in
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