The Law of Life

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"The Law of Life"
Author Jack London
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Short story
Published in The Children of Frost
Publication type Magazine short story
Publisher McClure's Magazine
Publication date 1901

"The Law of Life " is a short story by the American naturalist writer Jack London. It was first published in McClure's Magazine, Vol.16, March, 1901.[1] In 1902, it was published by Macmillan Publishers in a collection of Jack London's stories, The Children of Frost.[2] The protagonist of the story, as well as the rest of his tribe, is believed to be of Inuit descent.[by whom?]

Plot summary[edit]

This short story covers the last hours of the old Indian chief Koskoosh. His tribe needs to travel in search of food and shelter so he is left to die because of his age and inability to see properly. Even his son has to leave him because he has a new family to feed and take care of.

However, the old Koskoosh is not dissatisfied as he knows the law of life. He accepts his fate peacefully and starts to visualize the events of his past. The images of both great famine and times of plenty vividly comes to his mind. As an experienced person he contemplates the nature and ultimately accepts it's superiority over an individual.

A central part of the story is where Koskoosh remembers a time when he watched wolves attack an old moose, which was too old to keep up with the herd. At the end of the story the same situation occurs. He is left with no more wood to keep up the fire and the wolves are already roaming around his secluded place.


  1. ^ "The Law of Life". Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Children of the Frost". Retrieved 15 September 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Pizer, Donald, 1966. Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • McClintock, James. 1975. White Logic: Jack London's Short Stories. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wolf House Books.