Measure Of Strength In The Story War By Jack London

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Arguably one of the greatest fighters to ever live, Muhammad Ali, stated that ‘he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life’ ( Even as one of the greatest, he still knew how important risks and chances are. Greatness rarely comes from a plain and average human. Muhammed Ali speaks to the importance of risks as well as taking chances; the main character in the story would have benefited from hearing his message. In the story ¨War¨ by Jack London, he speaks about a man, a scout, in an ongoing war. A soldier at war must embody multiple strengths of both physical and mental prowess. Throughout the story, the man finds himself facing internal challenges. These battles encompass both physical and mental obstacles. As the story unfolds, continuously, the man shows that he may not exhibit the right characteristics for the situations in which he encounters. Muhammed Ali’s ability to overcome the rigours of his profession allowed him to be considered as a symbol of strength and greatness. By using literary elements the author conveys the message of fear, death, and sympathy. Jack London uses foreshadowing and irony to demonstrate how people handle pressure physically and mentally.

A common theme used throughout the story involved foreshadowing. Intellectually used in order to highlight the theme of survival in tough situations, a person must strive to achieve success in survival of the fittest. Early on in the story, Jack London describes the main character as an average man who, “was no coward, but his courage was only that of the average civilized man, and he was looking to live, not die¨ (London). By claiming to associate as an average civilized man and just looking to survive demonstrates a lack of intensity. It appears that his fear of death may have exceeded his level of courage. He clearly does not have what it takes. In tough situations, such as war, a mentality for survival of the fittest can require intense lifestyle management. To survive in war, a soldier must have a different mindset, a go-get-it and do not back down mentality, someone to undertake whatever arises. Strength of a man can hold greater measure than simply physical capabilities, strength only accounts for one aspect when determining a man’s abilities. A mentally strong individual attains the best advantage, hence where the scout appeared in deficit. ¨here was naught but silence, and himself, and possible death-dealing bullets from a myriad ambushes” (London). The main character’s thoughts and worries remain ever prevalent and on the forefront of his thoughts. The ability to conquer both mental and physical stresses will put an individual at an advantage over others. Lastly, by showing compassion, the character put himself at greater risk ¨he did not shoot. Slowly he lowered the carbine and watched¨(London). By the character not killing the bearded man, when he had an opportunity, put himself at a risk which ultimately cost him his life. As a scout, he knew the obligations of his role in war, a role he could not execute with good consciousness. By dropping the gun and letting the enemy survive in war proves, yet again, his mental strength does not contain what it takes to live in survival mode. The author’s use of foreshadowing in the story showed great relevance to how the character´s life ultimately ended.

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The author uses symbolism throughout the story to show the theme survival of the fittest. One of the author’s biggest examples of symbolism comes in a scenario with the ginger bearded man. The author says late in the story, ¨clapped their hands in applause of the long shot by the man with the ginger beard.¨(Jack London). The ginger bearded man who shot the main character to death, the killing of a man who posed no threat, came away as a victor. The bearded man and his fellow soldiers had the survival of the fittest mindset. Leaving no opponents created the least amount of threat, to them. Unfortunately, the scout would have avoided his death a second time, had he not indulged in a greedy behavior. The author demonstrates the scout’s greediness when he said, ¨A dozen trees were burdened with ripe apples.¨ (London). The main character came upon an apple tree to which he helped himself. He let his guard down and took on characteristics of greed. He helped himself to which he did not own, resulting in the opponent’s ability to find and kill him. Making one wonder, does the temptation of fruit for the scout have similarities to the temptations that Adam and Eve could not overcome in the Garden of Eden. In survival mode, one has to maintain their guard at all times, no matter the opportunities that may present themselves. Granted, this quote was already used, the significance holds multi-meaning, ¨But he did not shoot. Slowly he lowered the carbine and watched¨(London). The scout came across the ginger bearded man. Opportunity within his sights, he let the man go, showing empathy for a man posing no threat. A man with strong moral character shows more about a human than most physical attributes one can maintain. By the use of symbolism the author conveys humanity, selfishness, and pridefulness.

The author, Jack London, uses the literary elements foreshadowing and irony to show survival of the fittest mentality. In paragraph one, foreshadowing presents itself in three different ways. The author uses different quotes and scenarios in order to present what may happen in the future. In the first example, the author stated that he was just an average man, it gave the impression that a war mindset lacked in abundance. The second example happened when the author stated that he just kept having thoughts of death from ambushes, presented the feeling that, death would befall him. The last example used to display foreshadowing occured when he let the ginger bearded man go and he did not kill him. The feeling of knowing that a mistake had taken place, something would come from that transgression. In paragraph two, the author uses symbolism in order to show the theme survival of the fittest. The first example presented occurs when the bearded man shot the scout and all of the soldiers celebrated. This act symbolized the victories of killing in war. Another example depicting symbolism, the apple tree, epitomizes greed. The scout taking something that did not belong to him and his presence in this area ended up resulting in the loss of his life. The last example shown, contradictory to the first example, took place when the scout let the ginger bearded man go. He showed empathy for an enemy posing no threat to him. As Muhammed Ali once said about risks and the importance they hold, most will have to take chances when maintaining the survival of the fittest mentality. Of the characteristics and scenarios described throughout the story, the scout’s mental weaknesses surpassed any physical strength that he may have possessed. Survival of the fittest requires much more than physical strength.


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