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The opening sentence is a classic, foreshadowing the entire tale. Some anthropomorphism here, but it doesn't destroy a great adventure story, a look into the past, the Gold Rush in Alaska. The relationship between Buck and Thornton reminds us of how close man and dog can be, and the story never flags until the satisfying ending when Buck, too powerful a force to remain in civilization, returns to the wild.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
America is a dog obsessed nation. Jack London, in “Call of the Wild”, sets the pace for hundreds, if not thousands, of well-trodden stories about dogs.
London’s story is set in the time of Alaska’s gold rush. Dog sledding and the value of dogs increased in proportion to a ballooning Alaskan population. Buck, after being dog-napped, is sold to various owners in Alaska to serve the burgeoning demand for improved transportation. Buck is described as a big, growing fierce, intelligent dog. He learns how to deal with sub-zero temperatures by observing and copying the habits of other dogs. London describes how Buck learns to dig a hole in sub-zero temperatures and curl into a ball to protect himself.
London shows humans to be ethnocentric users of the animal kingdom. (This is not a surprise based on sentient beings’ history of abuse and slavery.) On a literal plane, Buck is a dog that is exploited by humans to drive sleds across the snow and ice of Alaska. Buck competes in the animal kingdom for supremacy by defeating or cowering other dogs to become a pack leader. However, Buck is chained to a life of toil by man’s domination of the non-human animal kingdom. These two forms of existence meld into one when Buck is saved by a human from abuse by his last owner; i.e. Buck becomes free to choose; free to return to the wild or stay with his human savior, not as a subject of domination but as a companion. Buck chooses to stay until his savior is murdered by a fictional tribe of Alaskan Indians. The “Call of the Wild” tears Buck away from humans because the wild is ironically more predictable than human civilization.
London’s story is about a dog but it is also a story about the best and worst of human beings. Whether dogs have human feelings, or humans project their feelings on dogs, or dogs are just other sentient beings is not important but freedom to choose is shown by London to be a preeminent condition of all sentient life.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Amazing book. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. It is the way of the wild.
I loved this. A brilliant story, one which anyone who has ever spent anytime in the wilderness will associate with.