Literary Analysis Essay
October 23, 2018
The Beast Within
Adaptation and Loyalty
“Spitz was untouched, while Buck was streaming with blood and panting hard. The fight was growing desperate...
[Chapter III, The Call of the Wild, Jack London]
spitz sneaks up on Buck, waits for the right moment to attack, and finds the exact and right moment to lunge all 200 pounds of meat and flesh at the slumbering dog and rips him apart. Buck quickly rises and defends himself making it clear to Spitz, and the rest of the sled dogs watching, that he means business. Buck later sunk his piercing teeth into the white meat of Spitz and tasted blood for the first time. This moment was just the beginning of the realization that Buck wasn’t a domesticated puppy anymore. There is nothing more important to survival than adaptation. In the book, The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, Buck has to learn how to be loyal and adapt to his new environment if he want to come in contact with the primordial beast within him.
After being captured, Buck soon realizes that he’s not in his usual environment where he’s treaded like an actual pet. He is soon introduced to ‘the man in the red sweater’. The man in the red sweater has one job, and one job only - to teach Buck some manners. While Buck is escaping from the cage he was forced in to, he launches at the man in the red sweater only to be struck by the forceful and fierce blow of a club. Buck, not understanding why he’s in so much pain tries again, and again, and again. Only to be struck down every single time with the electric and heart stopping shock of the club being beaten into him. Blood oozing, foam accumulating, and desperation growing strong. Buck doesn’t even have the slightest idea of what’s to come.
After a particularly fierce blow, he crawled to his feet, too dazed to rush. He staggered limply about, the blood flowing from nose and mouth and ears, his beautiful coat sprayed and flecked with bloody slaver. Then the man advanced and deliberately dealt him a frightful blow on the nose. All the pain he had endured was as nothing compared with the exquisite agony of this... Buck described a complete circle in the air, and half of another, then crashed to the ground on his head and chest. [The Call of the Wild, Chapter I]
This quote is important to the text because this is the moment Buck Realized that his life was about to flip upside down. Buck didn’t know what it was like to get beaten after coming from an environment where he was treasured and taken care of. This scene defined the primordial beast within Buck and the real animal inside him he would soon become.
Loyalty is one of the major keys when it comes to surviving in a new environment. In The Call of the Wild, Jack London re-creates the bond between a man and a dog when he introduces the heroic and protagonist character, John Thornton. Buck’s connection with man is significantly strengthened when he meets and interacts with his new owner, John Thornton. John Thornton has a fond sense of trust and loyalty in Buck. This is proven when Buck’s trustful owner gets an extremely large sum of money after placing a risky bet with other dog owners and bets that Buck can pull a massive load that the rest of the dog owners doubt he can pull. John Thornton’s trust in Buck and the loyalty that Buck feels for his master end up strengthening him enough to allow him to pull the sled. After a long and hard struggle and Buck winning the money for John Thornton, John shows his gratitude to Buck and creates the bond between a man and a dog that can last a lifetime.
Thornton's command cracked out like a pistol-shot. Buck threw himself forward, tightening the traces with a jarring lunge. His whole body was gathered compactly together in the tremendous effort, the muscles writhing and knotting like live things under the silky fur. His great chest was low to the ground, his head forward and down, while his feet were flying like mad, the claws scarring the hard-packed snow in parallel grooves...the sled lurched ahead in what appeared a rapid succession of jerks, though it never really came to a dead stop again...half an inch...an inch... two...[The Call of the Wild, Chapter VI]
This quote is important to the book because it proves Buck’s loyalty to John Thornton. Buck has to work extremely hard and push his body to the limits on order to drag the sled. In doing so, he proves to not only strangers, but his master that he is worthy of being loved.
While reading this book, there were many words and phrases that were new to me and didn’t make sense to me. But as the book went on, and I read more of the old and classic language, the references and vocabulary became much more clear to me. I felt that Jack London wanted us to realize that we won’t always be put into comfortable positions but it’s how we are able to overcome these challenges that really matters. He wants us to remember that even if life throws adversity at us and it reveals a “beast” like character within us, we must be able to cope with that beast and adapt to your surroundings and the situation you’re in. I think that this is definitely a good book and should be read in every school around America. This book teaches you that connecting with your inner beast can set free the best you, you can possibly be.
Maybe something old, can teach us something new. The Call of the Wild is that kind of book.