We should study literature because of the understanding it can provide regarding the ways and means people communicate and to identify those aspects of culture and life that are important. At the same time that literature works to expose the inner workings of the human soul, it inadvertently reveals the deeper elements of its author’s understandings. Such is the case with the author Jack London, who lived a life quite similar to that portrayed within his main characters. Although some of his best known works are White Fang and Call of the Wild, each of which convey some of what he learned while exploring the Alaskan frontier, London wrote other stories that reveal a great deal more about his inner character. By investigating what is known of Jack London’s biography, one can begin to trace the deep sense of disconnection London felt in his life and his attempts to use his writing as a means of making the connections he felt were lacking.
Regardless of where in the west one laid his head, the late 1800s and early 1900s were a time of incredible change as the country awoke to find itself a great nation. As the resources of the country were being realized, individual men took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves in order to bring about greater futures for themselves. These transformations, of both the country and the individual, were brought about by other changes as well, such as the growing technology that enabled steam engines to haul freight on rails from the country’s vast interior to the more inhabited exterior regions and the ability to reliably send post from one end of the country to the other. The large-scale transformations that took place as the result of greater technology and new ways of doing business were among the driving forces for bringing about transformations of the individual character of