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In Chapter 4 of The Sea-Wolf, why does Wolf Larens call the narrator "hump"? Is there...

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sandydd | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted February 24, 2009 at 1:14 PM via web

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In Chapter 4 of The Sea-Wolf, why does Wolf Larens call the narrator "hump"? Is there any thematic relevance?

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 1, 2009 at 1:04 PM (Answer #1)

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At the beginning of chapter 4 in "The Sea-Wolf" by Jack London, the narrator is working in the galley as a cabin-boy.  The cook has sent him above with bread and tea for the captains dinner.  As he is walking across the deck someone yells "look-out"  he doesn't know what he is supposed to look out for, but Wolf Larsen "shouted from the poop- 'Grab hold of something you-you hump!'"

This of course is a slang reference to the narrator's Christian name Humphrey and it also is thematically an indication of how the men on the ship viewed Humphrey.  The cook comes back up on deck after the huge wave has knocked Humphrey down and tells him that he is "good for nothing."

"Van Weyden is an idealist for whom "life had always seemed a peculiarly sacred thing," but he discovers that on the Ghost "it counted for nothing." In contrast, Larsen is a complete materialist who sees life as a "yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves."

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