Londons Attitude Towards Life In His Short Story “the Law Of Life”
Sample - 1070 words essay topic, essay writing: Londons Attitude Towards Life In His Short Story "the Law Of Life"
Jack London, real name John Griffith Chaney, is well known "American novelist and short story writer, born in California" (Merriam - Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature 629). London's short story "The Law of Life" was first published in Mc Clure's Magazine in 1901. "It was one of his first stories written around the time at which London had just discovered that this way of writing made the biggest impression on the reader."(Tenant 1) One of the most effective elements is that the main
character of the story is an old Indian, named Koskoosh. He is left by his tribe and his relatives, with nothing but a fire and some wood to keep it burning for few hours. He was sitting by the fire and thinking about his youth, remembering certain moments of his life.
In this story one may found London's attitude towards life as a phenomenon which must be undergone by every living being in this world. London calls it "the law of life" (London 956). And the law of life is aging and death. First thing which can be treated as a kind of "the law of life" is a circle of life. The circle of life begins when a man is born and ends with his/her death
Koskoosh thinks of the leaves turning in autumn from green to brown, of young girls that grow more and more attractive until they find a man, raise children and slowly grow ugly by age and labor. Koskoosh gives an example of a young woman, whom he calls "maiden": "A maiden was a good creature to look upon, full-breasted and strong, with spring to her step and light in her eyes. But her task was yet before her." (London 958). The picture of this woman is being portrayed at her youth when she is still nice, strong and with "light in her eyes" (London 958). She would grow up and she would take a husband.
"And with the coming of her offspring her looks left her. Her limbs dragged and shuffled, her eyes dimmed and bleared, and only the little children found joy against the withered cheek of the old squaw by the fire." (London 958) She is not an exception. This woman gets older until she reaches such age when she becomes uninteresting and expendable for other people. And finally, "her task was done" (London 958). Koskoosh equates her end of life with his current condition: "she would be left, even as he had been left, in the snow, with a little pile of wood" (London 958). This example illustrates that the circle of life really exists.
It is impossible to change or turn back life. It is like a river, no one can stop its flow. Second thing which may be called "the law of life" is Darwin's idea that in the world only the strongest may survive. These who are weak, old and are not able to take care of themselves must die and give place to the stronger living beings. In the very first paragraph of this short story the narrator introduces Koskoosh's granddaughter: "Sit-cum-to-ha was his daughter's daughter, but she was too busy to waste a thought upon her broken grandfather" (London 956).
Young people often have no time to be with their old relatives. They do not think this is an interesting beguilement to spend time listening to an old man's memories and advices. Sit-cum-to-ha also is busy with other things: "life called her, and the duties of life, not death" (London 956). She must do her duties in order to survive. Another example of Darwin's theory may be "Little Koo-tee": "a fretful child, and not over strong" (London 957). Even a child if he is not strong enough to survive has to die. "It would die soon, perhaps, and they would burn a hole through the frozen tundra and pile rocks above to keep wolverines away." (London 957) The circle of life of his little child probably is very small.
The last and the most important "law of life" is that everybody sooner or later have to leave this world. Death is an end of any living creature in Nature. It is difficult, especially when personally facing death, to accept this brutal reality. Old Koskoosh was left alone to die. At first, when he realized the fact, "it made the old man panicky for the moment" (London 956), but during his meditations Koskoosh learns to accept death.
He tries to imagine how the moment of his death would look like: "First his feet would yield, then his hands; and the numbness would
travel, slowly, from extremities to the body. His head would fall forward upon his knees, and he would rest." (London 958). One may think that he should be afraid of this everlasting "rest" (London 958) but Koskoosh on the contrary calms him self by explanation that it would be easy, because "all men must die" (London 958). He remembers the day when he left his father to die in the snow by a fire, and tries to imagine what his father might have felt then. And with these thoughts and memories, that all show how inevitable 'the law of life' and death is, his panic slowly changes into indifference. Death as a law of life has to be intelligibly accepted by every living being in the world.
This author's attitude is clearly seen from the very beginning of the story when old Koskoosh felt that he was already "very close to death" (London 956), until the last sentence of the story: "Was it not the law of life?" (London 961). Of course one should not forget that London writes about the far north, and as he points out himself in many stories, the rules in the far north are very different from those of any other region. The Indian custom of letting the old man die alone is not criticized by London, because this custom was a necessity for the surviving of the tribe. London only emphasizes that "the law of life" is one and irrevocable. One may call it the circle of life or the eternal struggle for living, but the end of our life, that is death, is the same for everyone. LIST OF REFERENCESLondon, Jack.
"The Law of Life". Eds. Ronald I. Gottesman, et al. The Norton Anthology of
American Literature. Vol 2.
New York: WW Norton and Company, 1979.Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 1995Tenant, Roy. "Who was
Jack London?" http://sunsite. berkely. edu/London. html 18 February 2012 .
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