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ERIC Number: ED033107
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1968-Dec
Pages: 7
Abstractor: N/A
Jack London: The Paradox of Individualism.
Deane, Paul
The English Record, v19 n2 p14-19 Dec 1968
Because of their interest in naturalism and socialism, critics often overlook the major intellectual conflict in Jack London's work: the paradox of individualism. London regards society as affecting the individual in two ways: it either promotes individuality or it demands a conformity that undermines individualism. When society fails Buck in "The Call of the Wild," he is driven to self-reliance and forced to become an individual, whereas White Fang is punished for exercising his individuality. In "The Sea Wolf," London develops these two extremes of social influence in the socially-isolated Larson and the socially-conforming Van Weyden. London favors Van Weyden, who ultimately realizes his identity as an individual and applies his abilities to improve society while Larson remains aloof and ineffectual throughout the story. London criticizes the destructive nature of this dualistic society in "Martin Eden" and shows Martin's frustration at a society that glorifies great individuals of history and literature but simultaneously ostracizes living nonconformists. Martin's suicide symbolizes London's paradoxical and inconclusive appraisal of the individual in and against society. (MP)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: New York State English Council.