The Naturalistic Ideals of Jack London Essay

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The Naturalistic Ideals of Jack London 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…show more content…
Through his vivid writing style, London captures the spirit of the wilderness and that “life was a struggle for survival… the ‘fittest’ would come out on top” (Napierkowski and Stanley). Again, this philosophy is the result of Buck’s destiny shaped by a force beyond his control. He is heavily influenced by his pack leader’s incessant teasing and desire for a fight. Through these conflicts, Buck evolves into the most savage, fearless animal that roams the winter nights. London sees Darwinism as “a law of life” (Berkove) and Buck has certainly accomplished it. He successfully achieves the status of alpha dog by later killing the pack leader and proving himself to be the “fittest”. Although this process is very difficult, London manages to evoke a brighter side to the situation. Buck’s struggle for survival produces a new personality fit for the environment of the Yukon, thus completing his transformation. However, there is a fine line between the struggle for survival for a human and an animal. In his story “To Build a Fire”, Jack London reveals the teamwork required from both the man and the dog in order to conquer the ruthlessly cold winter. “To Build a Fire” centers on a man trekking out into the below zero temperatures of the Yukon with his dog companion and ultimately succumbs to the unrelenting force of nature. The man puts his best battle with the wild but to no avail.
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