The Sea-Wolf Literary Analysis Topic Choices
Papers are Due in Class on December 16.
FRESHMEN and SOPHOMORE Literary Analysis Papers must be a minimum of THREE pages.
JUNIOR and SENIOR Literary Analysis Papers must be a minimum of FOUR pages.
Please review the “RULES” for writing a Literary Analysis Essay.
(Check your E-mail for these instructions.) This is NOT a Book Report. This is NOT a summary of the plot. It is an analysis of London’s Themes and the literary devices he used to convey those themes.
CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING TOPICS
- Write a Critical Analysis Essay comparing and contrasting life on board the Ghost and the messages found in The Sea Wolf with the true story of the Waodani Tribe in Ecuador and the Biblical messages of “End of the Spear”. This is a very difficult type of paper to write, because you will be analyzing the themes of two works, while comparing and contrasting the two. You can use the “End of the Spear” questions that I e-mail to you to give you some “End of the Spear” theme ideas and refresh your memory about the movie.
- Write a Literary Analysis Essay focusing on Humphrey VanWeyden’s character and several ways he changes from the beginning to the end of the book. Critically analyze the message that Jack London is trying to send through Hump and the way he has changed. Be sure to use evidence from the novel as well as your own commentary to “prove” your case.
- Write a Literary Analysis Essay contrasting Maud and Wolf, analyzing the messages that Jack London is sending through them, as well as how London’s main themes are epitomized by the way Maud, Hump and Wolf turn out.
- In a Literary Analysis Essay, clearly state how Humphrey Van Weyden was able to survive and become the new master—you’ll have to show that this is in fact true by tracing the steps of his success throughout the novel. Using evidence from the book (quoting phrases or summarizing passages with page numbers, etc.), show what LONDON credits Hump’s success to. Is London saying Hump is a self-made man? Is he saying that Hump is merely a product of his environment—a better suited animal than Wolf—and if so, why? If he thinks Hump’s ideals are better than Wolf’s materialism, discuss why. What is the ultimate man—the ultimate woman– in London’s eyes? Why does he think this? Are his beliefs conflicted or are they all congruent with Satan’s lie of Genesis 2:1-7—“you will be like God”? Refer back to the Humanist Manifesto (from Ch. 31-39 Journal Assignment), do you see similarities between London’s message and these secular humanists? If so, what? Contrast this with Biblical Truth.
- In your Literary Analysis Essay, build a case for the premise that Jack London is expressing the characteristics of the literary periods of Romanticism and Realism through his characters. Make sure to give evidence and your own commentary to prove that he is doing this, his purpose for doing this, as far as you can tell, and how these two views of life inform the main themes that he concludes the book with.
- Come up with your own thesis and write a Literary Analysis Essay. Be sure to clearly state your thesis at the end of your introductory paragraph and support your thesis throughout the body of your paper. End with a strong conclusion.
I am happy to read rough drafts and offer suggestions, so please send them to me, as well as your questions, and I’ll do my best to help.
Alternative Projects/Essay Topics
The Sea-Wolf End of Book Project or Paper
CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
Option 1. Re-read Chapter 5. If you were having this conversation with Wolf, how would you argue against his materialistic and evolutionary belief?
Do the following:
a. Read the hand-outs I have given you which relate to this assignment.
b. Make a list of at least eight assumptions Wolf has based his beliefs on then make a list of questions you could ask Wolf that would make him re-examine those beliefs and assumptions.
c. Pretend that Hump and Maud got Wolf to a Christian hospital in Alaska before he lost his ability to speak and that you are one of the nurses at that hospital. Write a fictional dialog between you and Wolf. Share your faith with him. Give your reasons for believing what you do—use scripture even if Wolf’s ‘in-character’ response might be to ridicule God’ Word. Use Scripture anyway, because it is living and active and the Gospel is the Power of God to save lost sinners. Write Wolf’s responses—you can write his outcome—you’re the author. Your back-and-forth dialog needs to be at least two pages long. (Your character should do most of the talking and ask the most pointed questions based on section b. above. This dialog should be typed.)
d. Make a visual display for the questions and two-page dialog you have generated. Decorate it with symbols that relate to Sea-Wolf and/or your fictional hospital conversation.
Option 2. a. Describe all the ways that Hump has changed from the beginning to the end of Sea-Wolf. Along with the physical changes in him, be sure to list all the skills he has acquired during his months at sea, and how he has been able to navigate difficult relationships. (Be sure to give examples from the book—at least page numbers and partial quotes.)
b. Cite ways that the Humphrey Van Weyden in the last third of the book is virtuous.
c. Trace Hump’s ideology from the beginning to the end of Sea-Wolf—be sure to give specific examples from the book. How has Hump’s belief system been altered? How has Wolf influenced him? In what ways are his new beliefs disturbing? (If you find them so.) Are there any ways that he seems to be a conflicted person? Some things to include could be: How do his evolutionary beliefs and his virtues co-exist? Where do his values come from if he is an evolutionist? What is his view of immortality? Is there any Judge or Judgment for evil-doers in his worldview? What does he think immortality is and how does having an immortal soul fit with evolutionary ideas? What has the book claimed that he has evolved into? How has that happened according to London? Is this a reasonable explanation?
d. VISUAL PRESENTATION
i. Make a visual presentation showing the old Hump and the new Hump. This visual presentation should show not only his physical difference, but show the other ways he’s changed as well. Include symbolism showing what London attributes the change to in one section of your display.
ii. In another section, or displayed opposing London’s worldview, show symbolically and in words Biblical insight, interpretation and explanation for why a character like Hump (flawed as he is) could triumph over a Lucifer-type character like Wolf. Or display visually and with words the real explanation of the origin of animals and man, sin, immortality, love and altruism etc.
Option 3. a. In a 4 – 5 page paper, clearly state how Humphrey Van Weyden was able to survive and become the new master—trace the steps of his success throughout the novel. Using evidence from the book (quoting phrases or summarizing passages with page numbers), show what LONDON credits Hump’s success to. Is London saying Hump is a self-made man? Is he saying that Hump is merely a product of his environment—a better suited animal than Wolf—and if so, why? If he thinks Hump’s ideals are better than Wolf’s materialism, discuss why. What is the ultimate man—the ultimate woman– in London’s eyes? Why does he think this? Are his beliefs conflicted or are they all congruent with Satan’s lie of Genesis 2:1-7—“you will be like God”? Refer back to the Humanist Manifesto (from Ch. 31-39 Journal Assignment), do you see similarities between London’s message and these secular humanists? If so, what? Contrast this with Biblical Truth. (See below for some ideas)
Option 4. Write a 4 – 5 page paper critically analyzing the themes of the Sea-Wolf biblically. If you use any of the following topics, you’ll need to narrow them down with your own thesis statement.
i. Explain the brutality of the world of the Ghost biblically. Using Scripture and Scriptural principles, discuss why the main characters were the way they were and changed the way they did. (Think about cycles of sin—not victimization. Analyze unbiblical, flawed beliefs and how those beliefs affected the lives of different characters. Ie. Mugridge– “Gawd must ‘ave ‘ated me when he signed me on…”) Contrast this with London’s explanation that these characters triumphed or failed based on their genetic heritage, poor environment growing up, and how strong and able or unable they were to adapt to their environment etc.
ii. Share other reasons why Hump and Maud, or people like them who find themselves in survival situations often become stronger, more skilled, and ingenious through the demanding circumstances they are forced to endure combined with their desire to live. Find a real life example of this to cite. Show that this desire to live is biblical and not evidence against immortality. Cite scriptural examples of this, as well as why death is the last enemy. Be sure to tell who it is that gives eternal life and true hope—and how a person obtains this. Discuss why beliefs based on God’s Word produce good results. (ie. Why love is healthier than selfishness, why forgiveness and trusting in God’s judgment beats out revenge, why cleanliness and doing a good job is more appreciated than filth and stale grease….) Relate this to why Hump triumphed.
iii. Focus on Creationist arguments and Intelligent Design arguments, showing how they fit the evidence best. Explain how this nullifies Evolutionary claims and Wolf’s relativism. Discuss how a right view of God, His Law, and His Good News give people and societies a solid moral foundation and freedom. (Think of the “Morality Apart From God” article and the Truth Project DVD we watched at the end of Captains Courageous.)