I finished The Sea Wolf by Jack London (god, I love having vacations like this, where I can finally read a lot again) as well. It had been a really long time since I had read something by London (the last time I probably was about 12) and I had forgotten what a good writer he is. If I scrape up my memories of literature theory correctly (and I suck at that, I only like reading books really) London was part of a movement called Naturalism (as opposed to Realism), which means you have an outsider coming into a closed society and populated by savages or at least men (nearly always men) with a deeper connection to nature than the ones in the civilized world. These stories usually end with the death of the characters in the portrayed societies.
This basic groundwork holds true in The Sea Wolf as well. Hump, as he is later known, is a literary critic and gentleman that by accident ends up on a ship headed to Japan in order to do seal hunting. This ship - the Ghost - is dominated by its captain - Wolf Larsen - who rules over his crew with a harsh hand and ensures his position with pure violence. Hump in the course of the story is transformed from a civilized weakling into a man that takes actions on his own and in the end actually dares to stand up to Wolf Larsen himself. Interestingly - and quite untypically for such a novel I believe - enough a woman enters the picture as well, making a love interest the centre of the conflict between Larsen and Hump. I do not want to go any further into the story or its ending, I warmly recommand this as lecture for anyone.