Like The Call of the Wild, Wolf tells the story of a soft, domesticated protagonist, in this novel's case an intellectual man named Humphrey van Weyden, forced to become tough and self-reliant by exposure to cruelty and brutality. The story starts with him onboard a San Francisco ferry, called Martinez, which collides with another ship in the fog and sinks. Much like the book captains courageous, it is a tale of one person transitioning-for the better. He is set adrift in the sea, eventually being picked up ("rescued" is not the right word) by Wolf Larsen. Larsen is the captain of the seal-hunting schooner Ghost. Brutal and cynical, yet also highly intelligent and intellectual (though highly biased in his opinions as he was self-taught), he rules over his ship and terrorizes the crew with the aid of his exceptionally great physical strength. Van Weyden adequately describes him as an individualist, a hedonist, and a materialist. As Larsen does not believe in the immortality of the soul, he finds no meaning in his life save survival and pleasure and has come to despise all human life and deny its value. Being interested in someone capable of intellectual disputes, he somewhat takes care of "Hump" while forcing him to become a cabin boy, do menial work, and learn to fight to protect himself from a brutal crew.