In The Sea-Wolf, why doesn't Wolf want to leave the island with Miss Brewster and van Weyden?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After finally escaping from Wolf Larsen, who is locked in battle with his brother Death, van Weyden and Miss Brewster land on an uninhabited island. Wolf eventually joins them on his wrecked ship, having been beaten and set adrift by Death. While van Weyden and Miss Brewster attempt to carve out a life and then repair the ship, Wolf tries to block their efforts; he does not want to escape the island, but instead to remain on it until nature and time destroy him.

"It's unfortunate," he continued. "I'd liked to have done for you first, Hump. And I thought I had that much left in me."

"But why?" I asked; partly in horror, partly out of curiosity.

Again his stern mouth framed the twisted smile, as he said:

"Oh, just to be alive, to be living and doing, to be the biggest bit of the ferment to the end, to eat you."
(London, The Sea-Wolf,

Wolf is living out the necessary end of his personal philosophies; he is not meant to work with others to live, but to survive by himself as long as he can. He is accepting of inevitable death, but not willing to compromise with others to fend it off. Instead, he wishes to take van Weyden with him, and is disappointed when he suffers a stroke that paralyzes him. If Wolf had been less vicious, less nihilistic, he may have changed his ideas, but instead he refused to compromise and instead destroyed himself from within, slowly and painfully.