Adaptation and the Impact of People
That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the reign of primitive law, and he met the introduction halfway.
[Chapter 1, London]
Buck jumps furiously at “the man in the red sweater” only to be knocked back to the ground. Again, again and again continuously being hit back. The club started to hit harder, but the anger was overriding it. Buck would do anything to get at this man. The pain was starting to slow Buck down, but he didn’t stop. The last blow hit him hard, he sat back with the realization that he was no longer a domestic dog. In The Call Of The Wild, Buck is placed around many different people which forces him to constantly adapt in order to survive. Reading the novella was not the easiest experience of my life, but looking back, it was worth it.
Adapt or die. In The Call Of The Wild, Buck needs to adapt to his surroundings in order to survive in the harsh environment of the Yukon. At the start of the story, Buck is a domesticated dog. Once he is sold to the Canadians he is forced to either realize that he is now a sled dog, or die. At the camps food is scarce for the dogs, so many resort to theft. Buck begins to adapt to eat quickly so the other dogs do not take his food. Since Buck was eating so quickly, he was forced into a state of severe hunger. Buck needed to find some way to deal with the hunger. The easiest option being theft. Buck begins to steal from Franços and Perrault.
“This first 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 lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death. It marked, further, the decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence.”
[Chapter 2, London]
Buck’s need to adapt starts with the realization that he is now a sled dog. At first Buck refuses to adapt. When Buck is taken he is furious at everyone and everything, but that all changes when he is met by “The Man In The Red Sweater”. Buck is continuously beaten until he stops attacking. Those who do not stop die. This scene proves that those who refuse to adapt will die. Buck is constantly adapting throughout the novella. He goes from a domesticated dog to a sled dog, and from a sled dog to a wild wolf. As Bucks titles change, he changes with them.
The people that are around you impact your actions. Buck is dependent on the people around him. Buck is placed around four main human characters. First Judge Miller, then Franços and Perrault, and lastly John Thornton. These characters all impact Buck in their own way. Judge Miller treats Buck as a prized guard dog. “The man in the red sweater” teaches Buck that he is either going to be a sled dog or be killed. Franços and Perrault are two experienced sled drivers that shape Buck into a leader. John Thornton treats Buck with love, leading Buck to become loyal to him. Hal is furious with his group of five exhausted dogs. Buck feels as if there is nothing he can do but collapse. As he falls to the ground Hal screams in anger. Despite Hal’s words Buck does not budge. Hal walks over to Buck and begins beat him until he is barley alive. As Buck is taking his last breaths John’s Thronton runs over to save him. Thornton defends Buck forcing Hal to go on without him. As Hal leaves the ice below him breaks leaving him dead. Soon after Hal dies Buck reflects on what Thronton has done for him.
“Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time. This he had never experienced at Judge Miller's down in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley. With the Judge's sons, hunting and tramping, it had been a working partnership; with the Judge's grandsons, a sort of pompous guardianship; and with the Judge himself, a stately and dignified friendship. But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse.”
[Chapter 4, London]
London makes it clear from the start that people impact Buck. Buck’s entire journey is sparked by him being sold to the Canadian Government. As the novella progresses Buck grows as a leader. This is all because of the people surrounding him. The people in charge of Buck constantly change throughout the novella. As the people change Buck changes. People change lives.
The Call Of The Wild was a challenging read, but contained great life lessons. Since the novella was published in 1903 it is full of outdated vocabulary. At first the vocabulary is very difficult, but as you read more and more it starts to become easier. Also The Call Of The Wild has some very complex themes. This novella can be read one of two ways. The first way is to read quickly for pleasure. Reading this way many import themes will be missed, and the story will not stick with you. The second way to read this novella is to read slowly and carefully. This way you will pick up on all of the important themes, and have a meaningful takeaway form the story. I felt that the novella was interesting at most points, but bored me at others. The points in the story that had me hooked were the action scenes, and the scenes that made me look back and think. The build up to Spitz and Buck’s fight was so dramatic that any reader would be interested. The scene were Buck is continuously hit by the man in the read sweater made me look back, and reflect on what had just happened. I also think that the way Jack London writes can be very boring. His tendencies to drag out certain scenes, and overly describe what is going on can be boring. Although reading the novella was at times boring, and challenging, I am glad that I read it
Buck is constantly forced to adapt to his surroundings; the people around Buck impact his actions, and this novella constantly challenged me to actively read and look back on the literature.