Review of Jack London's Short Story, The Law of Life

Topics: Old age, Life, Middle age Pages: 4 (1501 words) Published: August 25, 2013
Jack London's short story The Law of Life follows Koskoosh, an elder member of an indigenous tribe in the Klondike, through his final living hours. Because of the harsh environment, scarcity of food, and the importance of the group's survival, the tribe abandons the blind, old man in the tundra with only a fire burning nearby and a few pieces of wood to sustain it. While the man waits for death, the reader learns, through Koskoosh's memory, of his life, his tribe's traditions, and the laws of nature to which he'd always known he was subject. This essay will explore London's tale by explaining its attractiveness to a broad audience; by detailing Koskoosh as a character; and by illustrating some "laws of life" to which London introduces the reader, both explicit and implicit. If the description of The Law of Life read simply "The Death of an Indigenous Tribesman in the Klondike", many readers would immediately turn away. Worded like that, the topic appears irrelevant to the average American audience. Still, London managed to bring an audience whose lives are vastly different from the story's main character, people who would never find themselves in Koskoosh's situation, into the story by focusing on a something all human beings eventually face regardless of their lifestyles: the inevitability of death. The reader does not have to know anything about the tribe to relate to the character; the thoughts before death of this man reflect what many imagine their own thoughts will include: memories of youth, life, and family mixed with fear. In addition to the common ground upon which both the reader and the character stand, the story itself is written in a manner that allows for widespread readership. Though the topic is complex, the words themselves are not. London does not use flowery language nor does he over-complicate to get his point across. Instead, he opts to tell his story naturally and simplistically. This straight-to-the-point technique works well in a story...
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