Jack London’s Abyss

London’s use of imagery in “People of the Abyss” allowed me to genuinely see and feel what he experienced, and this had a most significant impact on me during several stories in the middle of the book. I felt that I too was beginning to understand the level of disgust London must have felt as a “soft” person being exposed to this world. One part that struck me as one of the most poignant and disturbing parts of the book was when London decided to walk with the Carter and Carpenter to the Poplar Workhouse. He noticed that they were stooping to pick small objects up from the ground, and then realized that they were actually picking up bits of “rotten”, “dirty”, and “slimy” food to eat. The description gave me a powerful realization. I was disgusted but also felt pity for the people of East End. Even though this book describes events of the past, I couldn’t help but feel anger. How was it fair that, in 1902, even though some of the wealthiest people in the world lived in London, others only a few miles away were literally starving to death? I think that Jack London felt this as well, and at this point in the book, conveys that he began to understand the unfairness and inhumanity of the city.


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