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Why does Hump think Wolf Larsen is "not immoral, but merely unmoral" in Chapter 10 of...

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kawaiisaito | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 1, 2009 at 12:58 PM via web

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Why does Hump think Wolf Larsen is "not immoral, but merely unmoral" in Chapter 10 of The Sea-Wolf?

Here is the passage precedes:

"When I had finished the bed, I caught myself looking at him in a fascinated sort of way. He was certainly a handsome man - beautiful in the masculine sense. And again, with never-failing wonder, I remarked the total lack of viciousness, or wickedness, or sinfulness in his face. It was the face, I am convinced, of a man who did no wrong. And by this I do not wish to be misunderstood. What I mean is that it was the face of a man who either did nothing contrary to the dictates of his conscience, or who had no conscience. I am inclined to the latter way of accounting for it. He was a magnificent atavism, a man so purely primitive that he was of the type that came into the world before the development of the moral nature. He was not immoral, but merely unmoral."

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

Posted March 1, 2009 at 2:28 PM (Answer #1)

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I believe that what Humpreys thoughts are trying to covey to the reader is the concept of the man with no conscience.  He looks innocent because in his mind he is.  Larsen has no value system except his own desire for wealth and material gain.  He does not in his own mind think he is doing anything wrong.  His moral upbringing is non existent.  As children our parents teach us what is right and wrong from their value system.  According to Larsen he was a seed thrown onto rocky land with no soil to nurture him.  He learned everything he knows on his own.  Immoral means to go against the moral ways of your life.  Larsen isn't doing this, he is simply living his life the way he knows how.  He isn't going against his moral value system, he simply has none.

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