The Law of Life, by Jack London

1324 Words6 Pages
What lengths should one go to in order to survive? This is a question which has challenged the human race for generations and to which no satisfactory answer exists. In the modern world, this issue is examined theoretically, but rarely confronts individuals, with the exception of the most destitute. However, in harsh environments and forbidding territories, this matter becomes very real and pressing. Nature pays no attention to the arbitrary emotions of man, demanding only the forfeiture of the sorrowfully short life granted to him. Many would argue that in order to delay the inevitable conclusion awaiting every man, humans must act upon their primal intuition rather than their emotions. Jack London’s “The Law of Life” includes this…show more content…
In modern society, the stability of human life has been improved such that, in weighing decisions, factors other than instinct are taken into account. In the harsh and unforgiving environment of Old Koshkoosh’s homeland, however, children are instructed to suppress their emotions and accept survival instinct as the law of life. As identified by Old Koshkoosh’s description of the cycle as eternal, this belief is one imparted to him by his elders. Although he is an independent person, the traditions of his tribe influence many of his decisions. Accordingly, he was taught to make decisions based upon whether they would increase his chances of survival. This primordial propensity towards instinctual courses of action serves as foundation for his tribe’s way of life and, in practice, trumps individual emotions. Old Koshkoosh was indoctrinated with this ancestral tradition of deriving the appropriate pathway from instinct for much of his early life, and it determined a decision in his adulthood which defined him for the rest of his life. The narrator described Koshkoosh’s recollection of the event, saying “He remembered how he had abandoned his own father on an upper reach of the Klondike one winter…” (749). Tribal devotion to the titular “law of life,” the natural phenomena which allowed only the strong to live and
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