The Red One
Jack London was one of America’s greatest authors. His works were of tales from the unexplored savage lands of the Klondike to the cannibal infested Philippine Island chain of the vast Pacific, and even the far reaches of space and time. Jack London himself was a pioneer of the unexplored savage frontier. London wrote about this unknown frontier with a cunning sense of adventure and enthrallment. “He keeps the reader on tenterenters books by withholding facts in a way that makes him participate in the action” (Charles Child Walcutt 16). He taunts the reader with unfulfilled information that subliminally encourages the reader to continue reading their selection. “The tortuously baroque style, it’s telling often proves an annoyance”(Gorman Beauchamp 297-303). London’s writing attributes are so deep in description and narration, the reader sometimes perceives the story-taking place with them included in the action. His ability to exclude just the very miniscule amount of information transforms his books into a semi-formal mystery. Mr. London’s tales deal with nature, the men and women who either neglected the fact that they are mere mortals, or they humbled themselves as being only a solitary one being on the earth. His stories satisfied the civilized American readers yearn for knowledge of what awaited them over the horizon, with either promise of prosperity or demise with a manifestation of dismay.
Jack’s stories have to do with as much from the unknown as it does in dealing with personal experiences. At the young age of thirty-two, London set sail for Hawaii and then the South Pacific. Where he encountered cannibals and inspiration for the later to be, “The Red One”. Mr. London’s tale consisted of a foolhardy character named Bassett. Bassett is a collector of prized species who explores the cannibal-infested Island of current day Guadalcanal. Initially Bassett, against his instincts, follows a distant sound that emanates deep within the Island. After headhunters kill his assistant, Bassett himself, teetering on the edge of death, stumbles into a mountain field and falls unconscious, with only hopes of dieing. He is saved by a foraging native that brings him to the capital village London’s character Bassett, freely agreed to a death beheading instead of nervous meddling and contemplating the afterlife. “When I die I’ll let you have my head to cure, if first, you take me to look upon the Red One”(Jack London 977). Bassett’s careless wager of his life to acquire knowledge of the Red One fulfills London’s ability to leave fragments of critical information out of the story line until absolutely necessary.
Bassett’s careless curiosity brings him to the great unknown for the first time. London, instead of fully painting a mental picture for the reader, rations miniscule details over time that lures the reader to continue. London portrays the significance of Bassett setting his eyes upon the Red One in these words, “No white man, much less no outland man of the other bush-tribes, had gazed upon the Red One and lived.” (Jack London 986)
This foreshadows Bassett’s encroaching end.
When Bassett’s life comes to a close he realizes what he is looking upon is a forgotten memory after his death. He realized that “like a peal from some bell of the gods reaching earthward from across space”(Jack London 982) this knowledge of his death approaching, despite his almost fully paralyzed body he “gazed upon the serene face of Medusa, Truth”(Jack London 297-303). This truth being the fact that he was going to die, and never again be able to peer at The Red One to wonder where it came from, who or what sent it, and why. After his body failed him he succumbed to death. His last account of life finished “Simultaneous with the bite of steel on the onrush of the dark, in a flashing instant of fancy, he saw the vision of his head turning slowly, always turning, in the devil-devil house beside the breadfruit tree” (Jack London 990) completes London’s writing with the envied information harshly realized that without the prized object of existence or life, there is no information to be sought.