The Law of Life

London, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela
  • Date of entry: Oct-17-1996


Old Koskoosh was the chief of an Eskimo tribe. Now he is blind and lame, and his tribe is preparing to leave him alone in the snow to face his death as they travel on without him. His son leaves him a pile of sticks to feed the fire beside him. When the fire dies, so will he. As he waits alone for death, he thinks of the time he left his own father in the snow. He also remembers having seen a sick, old moose killed by wolves when it straggled behind the rest of the herd. "It was the law of all life," he decides. When he feels the cold nose of a wolf on him and hears the pack's footsteps surround him, he first fights them off, then gives in.


For Old Koskoosh, old moose and old men must bend to the same law. Life gives both certain duties and, when they are accomplished, moose and man must die.


First published: 1900

Primary Source

Short Stories of Jack London



Place Published

New York




Earle Labor & Robert C. Leitz & I. Milo Shepard