Running head: LITERARY ANALYSIS
Grand Canyon University
American Literature II
September 28, 2011
September 29, 2011
Naturalism was a literary movement that took place from the 1880s until the 1940s. It used realism as a mechanism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had a monumental impact in changing or defining human character. Naturalism exposes the dark areas of life and how they affected people, such as sex, violence, disease, prejudice, abandonment, disease, and even death. Naturalism, in short, is a need to return to the earth. (Williams, 571) A prime example of this literary theory was the story “The Law of Life”, written by Jack London.
The story tells the tale of Old Koskoosh, a chief of a Eskimo tribe from the Klondike, a part of the Arctic region of northwest Canada. His tribe left him alone in the snow to face his death as they travel on without him, despite the fact that he grew was blind and lame during the course of their journey together. His son leaves him a pile of sticks to feed the fire beside him. Symbolism arises in the appearance of the fire that he starts. When the fire dies, so will he. As he waits alone for death, he thinks of the time he left his own father in the snow. He also remembers having seen a sick, old moose killed by wolves when it straggled behind the rest of the herd. "It was the law of all life," he decides. When he feels the cold nose of a wolf on him and hears the pack's footsteps surround him, he first fights them off, then gives in.
Now that the summary of the story has been provided, it is now time to connect the dots and draw the correlation of how “The Law of Life” falls into the category of Naturalism. The first aspect that makes this story a prime example of Naturalism is the amount of realism that was incorporated into its creation. The narrator gives a...
References: Baym, N. (Ed.). (2007). The Norton Anthology: American Literature, Volume C (7th ed.). New
York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN-13: 978-0393927412 pg. 1051-1105
Williams, Raymond. 1976. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana, 1988. ISBN 0006861504
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