Gold In The Yukon And Naturalism: Jack London’s Novella "The Call Of The Wild"

1354 words - 5 pages

Imagine this: Gold was just discovered in the Yukon Territory of Canada, and many gold miners rush to the North to see if they can strike rich. However, in order to do so, they need big, strong dogs with warm coats to protect them from the biting cold. As a result, a dog from the sunny state of California is dog napped and taken to be sold to anyone who is willing to buy him. When the dog is sold, he is shipped to the cold North. As he gets out of the boat, a chilling wind runs past him and, he realizes that he isn’t in California anymore. As the dog continues to live life with the other sled dogs, he realizes that in the North only the toughest can survive. The very same happens to Buck, a half St. Bernard and half sheepdog, in Jack London’s novella The Call of the Wild. Buck lives a very comfortable life on Judge Miller’s estate in the Santa Clara Valley of California. However, when the Klondike Gold Rush occurs, many men are in need of strong dogs like Buck. Manuel, the gardener, kidnaps Buck in order to pay off his lottery debts. Buck is then shipped to different parts of the Western Coast of the U.S. When he arrives in Seattle, he gets in a fight with a dog trader in a red sweater, which teaches him that he must obey men with clubs. Buck is sold to Francois and Perrualt, French mail carriers, and is shipped to the North. As Buck lives in the North, he begins to get in touch with his wild side. Buck is given to many different owners, until he finally meets John Thornton. He loves Thornton and wishes to stay with him forever, but on a hunting trip for gold, Buck begins to hear the call of the wild beckon to him louder and louder. He finds himself having to choose whether to stay with Thornton or go out into the wild. However, the choice is made for him one day when he returns to camp and finds that Yeehat Indians had invaded the camp and killed John Thornton. He explodes with rage and kills many of the Indians before he escapes into the wild and lives the rest of his life as the leader of a pack of wolves. Throughout the novella, many characteristics of Naturalism arise including the time, the geographical location, and the concept of survival of the fittest.
One characteristic of Naturalism in the novella is the time in which the story takes place. In the North, men begin to find gold in what is called the Klondike gold rush. Other men rush to the North in order to get rich. However, in order to travel throughout the land, they require many strong and furry-coated dogs to pull their sleds. This leads to Buck’s kidnapping and his adventures in the North. In the beginning of the novel, the narrator says, “...men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.”...

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