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The Call of the Wild Analysis

Conor Kennealy

Freshman English 

The Call of the Wild analysis




The Call of the Wild   


The Journey back to the primitive


“The dark circle became a dot on the moon-flooded snow as Spitz disappeared from view. Buck stood and looked on, the successful champion, the dominant primordial beast who had made his kill and found it good.”  

Chapter II, The Call of the Wild


Buck stabbed his fangs into his enemy, Spitz, mortally wounding him. He’s come a long way from his comfortable home in Santa Clara. From California to Alaska, Buck begins his descend back to the primitive. In the novel The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, Buck learns how to become a great and loyal companion in the Wild.


Laws are meant to be broken. In The Call of the Wild,   Buck lives a leisurely life until he is taken. From the man in the red sweater to the different owners laws are everywhere in the  Wild. In Chapter One, Buck is kidnapped and taken from his Santa Clara home in sunny California, and taken to snowy Alaska. He is taken by Manuel a groundskeeper, who works where Buck lives. He is sold for money for the sledding industry. When he gets to his first location he meets the man in the red sweater. Buck sees him and is angry. Eyes bloodshot, looking scruffy and hungry. He runs up to the man and attacks him expecting to bite him and win. Only he is whacked down and beaten with a club. Thus the law of Club and Fang begins for Buck. The law of Club and Fang taught him how to live in the Wild and how to follow directions. Overall Buck becomes a learns how to lead a life in this law.


 “He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the reign of primitive law, and he met the introduction halfway. The facts of life took on a fiercer aspect; and while he faced that aspect uncowed, he faced it with all the latent cunning of his nature aroused.” Chapter 1 

The law taught Buck many new things. It taught him to fight for himself and that out in the Wild no one cares about you, but you. Buck became the leader of his pack and thus a leader in the Wild.


Out in the primitive, it’s every dog for themselves. In the book, The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, both the dogs and humans set foot on the pursuit of mastery. The two species try to gain control of each other throughout the book. Sometimes the dogs want control of the dogs, as with Buck and Spitz.  Buck and Spitz both want to be leaders. Then the humans like Hal and John Thornton try to determine who knows what to do with the dogs and how to be the master. With Hal and Mercedes and Charles, Buck is treated poorly. They are only in it for the money and will do anything for it. In Chapter 5, they cross the line. Buck and the dogs pull up to John Thornton’s camp, and they are restless. Hal and Charles argue with John Thornton about whether or not they could cross all the way across the river, and finally say to him, that he should watch them do it. They yell at the dogs to go, and they don’t as they are tired. Suddenly, Charles grabs the whip and swings it hard, swiftly damaging the dogs. After a couple of these whips, John runs toward Charles, who has abused his mastery.


 “John Thornton stood over Buck, struggling to control himself, too convulsed with rage to speak. "If you strike that dog again, I'll kill you," he at last managed to say in a choking voice  "It's my dog," Hal replied, wiping the blood from his mouth as he came back. "Get out of my way, or I'll fix you. I'm going to Dawson." Thornton stood between him and Buck, and evinced no intention of getting out of the way. Hal drew his long hunting-knife. Mercedes screamed, cried, laughed, and manifested the chaotic abandonment of hysteria. Thornton rapped Hal's knuckles with the axe-handle, knocking the knife to the ground. He rapped his knuckles again as he tried to pick it up. Then he stooped, picked it up himself, and with two strokes cut Buck's traces.”


 John Thornton cared for Buck in a way that neither Perrault nor Charles could do. He knew the animals well and while he was the master, he let the dogs run free and be their own masters as well. Buck knows that John Thornton likes him more as more of a companion, then an animal who pulls his sled. It is their shared mastery that makes them work well together.


Lessons are the backbone of life. The Call of the Wild was a great book with many lessons. I liked how with all the details, it felt like I was really there. Jack London’s writing style was a little hard to understand at parts, but I still could feel what he was trying to get across. He wanted us to understand Buck’s call to the Wild. Buck is a quick learner and his resourcefulness showed in everything he did. While the book was confusing in some parts, I still feel that we should read it in school. It is short, and today’s kids don’t really have the attention span to read a 400 page book. Personally, I loved this book. It felt like more of a short story, than a big novel.  It is hard to understand but it’s just the right length for us to comprehend easily. It also is a story with a strong lead and the supporting characters don’t take away from the story. London’s writing is intricate and this makes him an incredible storyteller. 


Buck follows the law of Club and Fang until he feels he’s beyond it; Buck feels like he is inferior to his owners until he develops his companionship with John Thornton, and while this book was confusing I enjoyed reading it.