Martin Eden is a twenty year old sailor who has worked ever since he was a child. In society, one had to choose between work or education. However, some like Mr. Charles Butler chose to do both because he believed he had the capability of it. He worked during the day at thirty thousand a year and studied at night, going to night school.
Ruth is an educated twenty four year old who is trying to “tame a wild mind” into a higher class mind. In chapter eight, she is telling Martin Eden the story of Mr. Charles Butler as an inspiration to him. She explains how Mr. Butler both worked and studied throughout his life and at the end became a successful lawyer who refused the United States Senate. Ruth is trying to inspire Martin into succeeding into being a greater man with better education and a better life. But Martin thinks different than Ruth because of their class differences that exists between them. He believes that Mr. Butler “robbed himself of life for the sake of thirty thousand a year…” (London 110). Because Ruth has a mind of a bourgeois, she is shocked when Martin states that Mr. Butler didn’t enjoy life and had no happiness which is the biggest value according to Martin. To be happy and enjoy life to its fullest.
Martin can never change where he came from or how no matter how hard he tries. For example, in chapter eight, he states, “ When he looked back now from his vintage-ground, the old world he had known, the world of land and sea and ships, of sailor-men and harpy-women, seemed a very small world; and yet it blended in with this new world and expanded” (London 103). He is keeping to his roots and adding to it his new understanding.
Martin is trying to change himself completely. He is changing his grammar, language, pronunciation, and etc. but he will never change his own true beliefs. Martin thinks very differently than Ruth because of their situations in society. Martin thinks with his heart while Ruth thinks with her mind.