The Call Of The Wind Essay

2924 words - 12 pages

The Call of the Wild is a book that follows a dog named Buck throughout his journey from the soft and civilized world to the harsh Alaskan tundra. There are several events throughout the story which that illustrate Buck’s gradual decline from a civilized state of mind to a savage and primal mode of thinking (though Jack London seems to believe that the civilized state of mind is a decline from the primal state of mind ). Jack London makes the implication that Buck is a wild dog, but I would argue against that claim. I would argue that each step Buck takes towards a more wild state of existence, as described by London, is a product of men and that the wild creature known as Buck is but an artificial creation—a construction of men. You see, Buck was forged by the actions of men, be they cruel or kind. The fiery sting of the whip and the thunderous plow of the “club” coupled with the heavy chains of bondage are the true crafters of Buck’s personality traits (London Ch. 1 ). Nearly every aspect of Buck’s life is shaped by humans in one way or another. Eventually, Buck would learn to be as cruel as the humans that torment him, as cunning a thief as that the scoundrel Manuel, and as great a breaker of dogs as was the man with the red sweater who first introduced Buck to the “law of club and fang” (London Ch. 2). I would further argue that Buck is so lethal a creature—a destroyer of those that challenge him—and so capable of surviving in the Alaskan wasteland not because he has mastered the ways of the wild, but because he has mastered the ways of men.
In the beginning, London describes a looming danger to Buck, a reality that would eventually break down the noble Buck and reshape him into a more volatile, cunning, and respected creature of the Alaskan tundra. “Men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal” and that metal, though seemingly an aspect of another world, would perhaps be the factor most significant to Buck’s life (London 9). For that far away metal, a source of economic prosperity for some and a source of grief for others, Buck being associated with the latter, would eventually be the reason Buck should arrive in Alaska to begin with. Just as the supply of gold should increase, so should the supply of dogs increase, and that is the beginning of Buck’s journey: a demand for “heavy dogs with strong muscles with which to toil” (London 9 ). This situation of men, an economic factor to be sure, would eventually influence the outcome, character, and life of Buck. Perhaps Mark Seltzer says it better than I when he states “The twin principles of gold and the machine are the economic principles that put bodies in motion across the landscape of the great white male north” (qtd. in Bruni 28 ). This is an important observation because it is the beginning of Buck, the factor which determines all things to come. Without these factors, Manuel would never have been compelled to steal Buck, and Buck would never have found himself in...

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