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Call of the Wild

In: English and Literature

Submitted By LizzyBa
Words 797
Pages 4
Willson 4
Hadley Willson
Mrs. Lockett
American Literature/ Composition
October 1, 2012

Be Tamed or Be Wild?

Imagined being taken from a luxurious life on a ranch and being thrown into the harsh enviroment of Alaska. Jack London, a famous American author, wrote about a dog, who experienced this cruelty, in his historic fiction book, The Call of the Wild. In the summer of 1903, London's novel, was published by the New York Macmillan Company. The story is set in the late 1880's in California, and later moves on to Alaska and the Klondike region of Cananda. Buck, the protagontist, is a dignified St. Bernard and Scottish shephard dog. Throughout the book, he is passed from one owner to the next. After being kidnapped from his luxurious life in Santa Clara, California, Buck is sold to a man in the red sweater. The man in the red sweater was the first person to teach Buck a "primitive law" - that Buck cannot win a fight against a man weilding a weapon. Buck's next owners were Perrault and François. These two Frenchmen worked for the Canadian government, carrying mail to different outposts. Buck's second masters in the north are Charles, Hal, and Mercedes. While they are all related, they don't make a very good team. Charles is an incompetent sled driver and continually puts himself and the dogs at risk. Hal carries weapons and mistreats the dogs, while Mercedes thinks their journey is some kind of camping trip. John Thornton, Buck's final owner, saved Buck from the cruelty of Hal. Buck is enjoying the luxurious life in Santa Clara, California when he is stolen and sold to dog traders. Before shipping Buck north to the Klondike, the dog traders teach him the importance of obedience by beating him with a club. Arriving in the chilly North, Buck is amazed by the cruelty he sees around him. After witnessing the death of another dog, Buck promises to himself not to let the same fate befall upon him. Just when he thought his situation couldn't get worse, Buck pulls ridiculously heavy sleds through miles and miles of frozen ice with little or nothing to eat and frequent beatings. Buck also starts having dreams about the primitive days of dog and man, before the advent of cities, houses, or culture. Fortunately, Buck is saved by a kind man named John Thornton, moments before the group death in icy water. He soon becomes attached to Thornton and even saves his life several times. Buck sets off on new adventures with his new master and a few other men, loving his life, except the longing to run off and kill things in the woods. He fights the temptation: Stay with Thornton or kill things? Be civilized or be wild? The urges that Buck feels pulling him into the wild foreshadow his eventual transformation from a tame dog to a wild beast. After returning to camp one day, Buck discovers that everyone, including John Thornton, has been killed by Yeehat Indians. Without thinking and without fear, Buck attacks the entire group of Indians, killing several and driving the rest away in such fear that the valley in which Buck revenges his master is from then on considered by the Indians to be a demonic place. After John Thornton's death, Buck is free of all his attachments to civilization, and so he joins the wild wolves. As legend has it, he becomes the sire of a new breed of wild dogs which still exists in the wild places of the Great North, loping through the cold nights, with Buck leading them, singing "the song of the pack." The Call of the Wild is a great work of literature. Written in a style that is at once strong and poetic, it is both an adventure story and a meditation of civilization versus savagery, with savagery clearly having more appeal to the author. As Buck gradually reverts to the instincts and behaviors of his wolf ancestors, he becomes both more alive and more like his inner self. This, and its implications for human beings, gives the reader plenty to think about. Because the story is set in the wilderness, it requires survival skills. Men and dogs are beaten and killed, and attack and kill each other, quite brutally. Men beat dogs with clubs and whips, while dogs fight to the death and tear out the throats of men and other dogs, a dog is torn apart by a pack. This amount of violence is a little too much, but it opens the eyes of the reader to the reality of surviving in the wild during the Yukon Gold Rush. Overall, The Call of the Wild is a story of dignity and leadership that is enjoyable to read.

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