Jack London and His Call of the Wild

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"He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time." - Jack London, The Call of the Wild, Ch. 3 (Jack London Quotes). This quote summarizes the success of Jack London’s writing career in one simple sentence. London’s success and inspiration for his naturalist style can be accredited to the way in which he was raised, and his experiences during his lifetime.

Jack London, was born John Griffith Chaney on January 12, 1876 near San Francisco, California. His mother was abandoned by London’s real father, William Chaney a traveling astrologer, shortly after it was discovered she was expecting Jack. This later influenced London’s decision to leave his family at a young age. His mother remarried quickly, and Jack took on his stepfather’s name, London. Because of complications, London was primarily raised by Virginia Prentiss, a former slave, until he was around five years of age (Stern 700). The family lived in poverty, and he had many siblings, but was not particularly close with any of them (Jack London Biography). At age 13, he quit school, borrowed money for a boat, and began harvesting oysters in the Pacific Ocean. By the age of 15, Jack was a successful business man, and known around the docks as “The King of the Oyster Pirates” (Stern 700). He later reflected on this difficult time by stating, “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well” (Jack London Quotes). He was later caught in this illegal act and then hired as part of the coast patrol because of his extensive knowledge of the sea. After a voyage to Japan with the patrol, he returned to California in the middle of a recession (London, Jack). After struggling to find a steady job, London joined Coxey’s army, a hobo organization (Jack London Biography). After becoming bored with that, he enrolled in high school and completed a four year degree in just one year. Shortly afterward,...
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