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Grit of Women by Jack London

Updated on May 7, 2013


A Couple's Tale Of Survival

Grit of Women by Jack London recounts the events that happen in a turn of the century prospecting town in the frozen northlands. When the Klondike town of 40 Miles is facing starvation it is up to Sitka Charley and his purchased wife, Pussak to go for help. It's a daunting, suicidal mission but one that must be made if anyone in the settlement is going to survive the merciless winter months.

Own Grit of Women by Jack London

Sitka Charley, A True Story?

What makes Jack London's story Grit of Women even more poignant than it already is, is that it just might be true. It has been well established that London used real life people and real events to base many of his stories on and the character if Sitka Charley shows up in more than one of London's tales of the Klondike. Could this tragic tale of love found and love lost possibly be true?

Another Sitka Charley Story by Jack London

An Homage To Women

Jack London's short story, Grit Of Women, is obviously a salute to womankind whom London held in extremely high esteem. Although his childhood relationships with both his own mother and grandmother was far from intimate, he adored his nanny, Virginia Prentiss, and remained close with her for the rest of her life. When London reached the Klondike himself, some of the first stories he heard was of the native women and of their extreme 'grit' and loyalty. Toughness was one of the things that London, a noted adventurer himself, admired in anyone and doubly so in a woman for it just added to their stock in his mind. Jack London was clearly a great admirer of women and their strength.

Jack London Loved to Love

Grit of Women is also another clear demonstration of Jack London's love of being in love. His own daughter has been quoted as saying that London's childhood lacked affection from his mother and probably caused her father to be in love with the idea of being in love. Great writers write from what they know, from their own experiences so it makes sense that London would try to satisfy his need for a world in which romantic love was an all powerful force through his stories.

SPOILERS BELOW! - skip to next module to avoid Spoilers

In this story, Puauk, the native woman that Sitka Charley takes as his wife, is so in love with him, so utterly devoted to him that she not only starves herself to death but also refuses to feed her own starving brother so that her husband may go on living. Yowsers that's love.


Many of Jack London's stories seem to have a lot of messages in them but perhaps, more accurately, he was just doing what the best writers do and that is to write their truth, the things that they believe in. London wrote about people and their character as demonstrated in their circumstances, usually hardship and adversity, two things that London knew very well himself from an extremely young age.

By all reports, Jack London was an unselfish kind of fellow who was generous and gave freely. He admired people who were selfless and in this short story, Grit Of Women, he reveres that quality. Sitka Charley volunteers to embark on an almost impossible mission to give the community of 40 Mile a chance to live.

On the reverse side, London illustrates that even Sitka Charley has been selfish in a way, by taking his wife for granted and that she, above all others in this story, is the most selfless of them all and therefore deserves the greatest admiration.

A Lesson In Marriage

Happily married himself, Jack London seems to be expounding one of his tips for making a marriage work in his short story Grit Of Women. The moral seems to say to us clearly, don't take your partner for granted. Don't overlook them and the many things they do for you each and every day because life would be a lot more difficult without them beside you. Be appreciative. Be attentive. Don't be self absorbed and entitled the way Sitka Charley is when he first marries his wife. At fist his heart is cold to her because he buys her more like a dog than a bride. He needs help along the trail and he sees her as a slave instead of a companion.

SPOLERS! - skip to next module to avoid spoilers

But then, after he begins to appreciate all of the wonderful things she does for him and he starts to recognize her amazing qualities, he grows to love her and realizes how much time he has lost with her.

Human Willpower

Another common theme with Jack London's stories is the strength of human willpower. London venerated people with strong character, like himself, and had little time for the weak. Not the physically weak or the handicapped, but the lazy who refused to better themselves or toughen themselves. In this short story, Grit Of Women, he calls it a 'streak of fat' that runs through some people and makes them less likely to survive than those with iron wills.

Grit of Women details the kind of hardships that prospectors faced in the Klondike. Everything from savagely cold winters to starvation so intense that people are forced to eat their dogs, their sled harnesses and even their own moccasins. Having survived the Klondike himself, Jack London used this story and many others to applaud the strength of character of those that also braved the frozen wilderness.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Grit of Women, one of my favorite stories.

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      5 years ago from The High Seas

      I have a bit of a love affair with Jack London so I will be interested to hear what you think of his work now that you are older.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      I read "Call of the Wild" when I was a child and found the story much too raw and dark for my maturity level. Maybe now I'm ready to read "Grit of Women". Your review certainly piques my curiosity! Thank you for sharing.

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      5 years ago from The High Seas

      And you can get his work for free too! I have all Jack London's stories loaded into my kindle, e book reader.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 

      5 years ago from New Delhi India

      I have never heard about Jack London nor ever read any of his book but after reading your hub, i think i would go to local book store to see if they have any of his works. Voted it up and awesone

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      5 years ago from The High Seas

      If you want an effervescent love story, read his Valley Of The Moon. I can't get through it. It's all "I love you" and "No, you're more wonderful" and "Isn't everything peachy!" OK I might be exaggerating a bit but not much. But you have a good point, his stuff was pretty grim. Not Joseph Conrad, Victor Hugo grim but close!

    • aethelthryth profile image


      5 years ago from American Southwest

      I dislike Jack London - he's not exactly a blue skies and rainbows author - but I was not aware of all he had written, and you have got me interested; I guess I should give him another chance.


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