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Analytical Essay - Jack London, Call of the Wild Choose three dogs, other than Buck, described in the novel.
Discuss their relationship with Buck and other dogs.
Call of the Wild literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Call of the Wild.
By Oren Fixler - 19.11.02 Buck, a huge four-year-old Scottish Shepherd-Saint Bernard crossbreed, lived a life of ease at Judge Miller's Santa Clara Valley estate. As the judge's loyal companion, working with his sons, and guarding his grandchildren, Buck ruled over all things, humans included.
Buck, however, does not experience only raw nature. With John Thornton he returns to a more civilized existence. London’s dog stories shuttle between the poles of the domesticated and the wild, of the civilized and the natural. The Call of the Wild begins in a
domesticated environment and ends in the wild. (Conversely, White Fang begins in nature and ends in
civilization.) Thornton’s compassionate influence helps temper
the savage ferocity Buck develops to survive in a crueler world. The wild instinct still remains. Buck’s love for Thornton compels Buck to be obedient, loyal, and altruistic, but his wild half keeps calling to him. Buck’s romp in the woods with the wolf that seems like a brother to him
anticipates his complete surrender to nature when Thornton dies. In the end, Buck obeys the call of the wild.
At this time, gold had been found in Alaska, and thousands of men were rushing to the Northland. They wanted dogs, dogs like Buck. One night Buck, along with other dogs, were stolen and sold to dispatchers from the Canadian government.
London was heavily influenced by the works of Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, 1859, and The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871). In The Call of the Wild, Buck’s experience follows Darwinian principles. He is molded by the changes in his environment, thriving because he possesses
the necessary genetic gifts of strength and intelligence to adapt to his mutable circumstances. He is an example of a popular
understanding of Darwin’s theories: survival of the fittest. Although raised in the domestic ease of Judge Miller’s estate, Buck learns quickly what it takes to endure the brutal world of dog-sledding—the “law of club and fang.” When Buck first learns to steal food from one of his French Canadian masters, readers are told that this “theft marked Buck as fit to
survive in the hostile Northland environment. It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions.” The Call of the Wild also reflects London’s admiration for the works of nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich
Nietzsche. In the North, might makes right, and Buck proves to be the animal equivalent of Nietzsche’s superman
, possessing physical and mental abilities superior to
those of the other dogs.
There, money was exchanged, a rope was placed around Buck's neck, and his life in the civilized world had come to an end. Buck would now unite, with a team of huskies, to travel the wide expanse of the Yukon, delivering mail to those in fierce search of gold
. During Buck's adventure he is taught numerous lessons.
This story may be read on several levels. As an adventure tale it is a rollicking good yarn about life in Alaska. As a historical romance it can be read as a somewhat faithful depiction of the perils of seeking gold in the Yukon during the Klondike
gold rush, in the 1890’s. Finally the novel can also be read as a philosophical work
reflecting London’s interest in social Darwinism and notions of racial survival.
Spitz's strength and ability to proclaim his position as his own may have been strong, but not strong enough to withhold the determination Buck had to proclaim Spitz's position as his own. Until his craving for this position became so immense that he would kill another for this one desire. Spitz's relationship with Buck is an example of the amoral being who fights for survival with all of his might, disregarding what is right and wrong.
In spite of the obvious absurdities of Buck’s reflections on his Nietzschean racial fulfillment as a super being, the novel is surprisingly successful as a work of early twentieth century symbolism. Certainly London’s most famous, and perhaps best, work of fiction, it incorporates the graphic world of violent action which captures the vitality and metaphysical vision that he discovered in the “white silence” of the uncompromising environment of the North and which came to represent the indifferent triumph of the amoral universe over man’s
Dave was perceived as care free, but his relationship with the other dogs was obtained without being clearly obvious. "Dave ate and slept, or yawned between times, and took interest in nothing, not even when the Narwhal crossed Queen Charlotte Sound"
. Even though Dave's interests were not evident at first, but his passion to complete his work was constantly shown. Dave's devotion to the job at hand is exhibited when he becomes ill on one of their journeys but refuses
to leave the harness, preferring to die pulling the sled.
The Call of the Wild suggests that the reader draw a corollary between the divided nature of Buck and that of every human being. Inspired by Darwin, London believed in the evolutionary continuity between animals and human beings. If human beings evolved from animals, then what exists on a lower level in animals must hold true on a higher level for human
beings. London does not give Buck human qualities but suggests
that animals and humans share common traits and experiences because of their evolutionary connection. Buck’s vision of the short-legged, hairy man sleeping restlessly near the fire symbolizes the primitive beast lurking within all civilized beings. Being an animal, Buck can completely surrender to his primitive half. London seems to celebrate the primordial throughout the book
, lauding the “surge of life” Buck experiences when he hunts down prey, the “ecstasy” of tasting living meat and warm blood. For human beings the rift between nature and
civilization is much more complicated. People cannot and should not revert
completely to their animalistic ancestry. In White Fang, for example
, human beings dominated by their primitive halves are degenerates and criminals. London deals more directly with this human struggle in The Sea-Wolf (1904), suggesting that for humans a balance between the brutish and the civilized is best.
He shared relationships with the dogs which were in a way, secretive. ...read more.
Her death is brutal; it acts as a warning to Buck of the harshness and cruelty of his new home. She symbolizes the effect of the law of club and fang, when she is punished for breaking the code of savage survival.
Walcutt, Charles Child. Jack London. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1966. Gives a well-rounded overview of the life and works of Jack London. Covers the effect of Darwinism and the other philosophies that
London studied on his works. Discusses the use of the dog’s point of view in the story.
Her death further instilled The Law of Club and Fang into his mind. To such an extent that the scene of her death would come back to haunt him in his dreams. Buck's relationship with Curly is one he will never forget, her kindness as well as her death are messages that will be with Buck forever. Buck's relationships with the other huskies varied. In many cases his relationship would weaken as time progressed. And in many instances his relationship with the dogs would evolve and strengthen
. Each dog taught him a lesson. Weather it was Dave, who demonstrated, true determination on every level or Spitz who illustrated to Buck the Law of Fang. Buck learnt from all the dogs he was surrounded by. The messages he received were those that assisted him in his fight for leadership and finally in his journey back to his
primordial being. Words = 922. ...read more.
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