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Jack London Law of Life

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Type your responses in complete sentences. Responses submitted in incomplete sentences will receive some point deductions. Work submitted late will be graded accordingly (check the syllabus). “Law of Life”

1.As the story begins, what thought makes Old Koskoosh suddenly panic? Provide details of an action leading to his panic and cite direct evidence showing an action of reassurance. He thought of the fact that his granddaughter was still being called by life, and living very much in the present, while he was dying. “ he stretched forth a palsied hand which wandered tremblingly over the small heap of dry wood beside him.” (London). 2. Provide direct evidence showing a ceremonial similarity between the past burial of the missionary and the future burial of Little Koo – tee. “they would burn a hole through the frozen tundra and pile rocks above to keep the wolverines away.” “the dogs afterwards nosed the stones away and fought over his bones.” 3. Explain why Little Koo-tee will be left to die and why little remorse was expressed when the missionary died. For one, Old Koskoosh believes in the laws of life, and that little remorse should be given over the dead because when animals in nature die, they are not even given the respect of ceremony. Also, Little Koo-tee and the missionary both gave the tribe more work than they were worth and were not strong enough to survive. 4. What abstract yet omnipresent being is ever-hungry?

Death is “ever-hungry” in the story because it is always consuming the life of others, and it never stops. 5. Explain the meaning behind the metaphor Old Koskoosh uses to understand the law of all flesh. Be certain to provide details of the metaphor when writing your response. When he explains the rise of the sap and the “bursting greenness of the willow bud,” he is explaining how life begins with a purpose, a reason to live. Then, as the yellow leaves fall, so does life lose meaning, and as the tree dies, it becomes stiff wood, just as the being becomes an empty shell of their former self. 6. What is the one task Nature sets the individual to do for the species’ survival? Cite direct evidence supporting your response. The one task is to spread life and reproduce, just as it says in the story: “To perpetuate was the task of life, its law was death.” 7. Explain why the undertaking and completion of this task makes the life of the individual both essential and non-essential. If reproduction is the only task of life, and keeping a species alive is the goal, then what is the use of keeping the species alive? Survival seems essential, but if each individual is replicable, why live? Another can always complete what you were born to do.

8. What approximate percentage of the tribe died during the time of the Great Famine? Cite direct evidence supporting your response. I would think around 10% died, “not one in ten of the tribe lived to meet the sun when it came back in the spring.” 9. Explain the metaphorical meaning of the old bull moose’s struggle against the wolves. Perhaps Koskoosh sees the moose as a metaphor for a man who tries to survive even though it at his heels and the wolves represent that death that hungrily nips at the heels of the living. In the end, he decides that he would like to accept death with a calm demeanor instead of struggling to hold on to life until the end. 10. Why is Old Koskoosh critical of Sit-cum-to-ha, yet what past event does he reference showing his criticism to be a bit hypocritical or unwarranted? He believes that she has left him to die, and she has, but he would also have done the same thing with Little Koo-tee. 11. Although Old Koskoosh is hoping the sound he hears is the return of his son, the sound is actually the arrival of what? What can we infer will soon occur? What he believes is his son is really the wolf, and since they seem to be a metaphor for death in this story, we can infer that he is soon to die.

12. Based upon your response to prompt #11, what symbolic importance can be given to the fire? The fire may be able to symbolize his last attempts at living and when the fire goes out it shows that he is giving himself up to death without a fight. 13. Explain how the tribe’s actions present its primary focus to be on the group rather than the individual. Provide three examples from the story supporting your response. The tribe will often leave behind the dead with nothing but a pile of rocks to prevent the coyotes from eating the dead flesh. Instead of staying with the dead and crying over it, they keep moving for the group’s survival, as Koskoosh mentions with Little Koo-tee. They also leave the missionary behind because he no longer had use to them. Lastly, they leave Koskoosh because they know that he is close to death. 14. Define anathematize, and put it correctly in a sentence. To anathematize is to use a name or name of an object as a curse. In the story, Koskoosh says that other tribes would anathematize his name.

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