The Novel “Call of the Wild”

Table of Content

In the novel, The Call of the Wild, the author, Jack London, uses power in order to convey his theme of ancestral memory and primitive instinct to the reader. Throughout the novel, the protagonist, a large Saint Bernard named Buck, tries to find his place at the top of his community. London uses The Call of the Wild to display how people, or animals, want to dominate. From the beginning of the story when Buck is put into a group of mail running dogs, he is trying to come out on top.

Buck was born into a wealthy family, and instead of being of use to his family, he was just a pet who controlled all of the other dogs on the settlement. Once Buck is brought into the wild, he is not taught how to be fierce, instead it is suggested that Buck recovers his primitive instincts from his ancestors. London manipulates Buck, and his setting in the cold north to show how we all have primitive instinct, and sometimes it needs to be used. This book also presents that sometimes when ties to humanity are cut, so is your humanity, and it causes you to lose control.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Bucks civilized life begins to crumble even before he is sent to the great north, when his gardener needs money. Blinded by his pampered life, he does not realize that things start to change. When Buck is brought to his first owner, and is beaten, he realizes for the first time that human beings can be the enemy. “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 afterlife 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” (8). Each time Buck is clubbed, he jumps up at his attacker until he is finally knocked unconscious by the man with the club. This incident shows Buck to a new way of life, which is very different from the pampered existence that he had in Santa Clara.

In Santa Clara, civilized law was the ruling force, symbolized by the fact that his first master Judge Miller, is a judge. Now Buck comes to terms with primitive law, where might makes you powerful and a man with a club can do as he pleases to weaker creatures. In this scene Buck learns his lesson to come to master others. Within the first two minutes of reaching the north, Buck realizes that the wild is very savage. Buck’s traveling companion, a female dog named Curley, approaches a husky in a friendly way, and is immediately pounced by a group of dogs, and is murdered.

The men attempt to rescue the dog, but she is already dead, and some men laugh at her fate. The next day he is harnessed in and begins to run mail with the other dogs in his group. This is when he first needs to throw away his morals, when looking for food. “And not only did he learn by experience, but instincts long dead became alive again. The domesticated generations fell from him. In vague ways he remembered back to the youth of the breed, to the time the wild dogs ranged in packs through the primeval forest and killed their meat as they ran it down. (25). This is when Buck truly starts to recover his primal instincts, and he knows he must do whatever it takes to stay alive. As London suggests, when you throw a soft, civilized creature into the wild, he will regain his primal instincts and survive. Buck’s first true friend comes on later in the book, he is a man by the name of John Thornton. Although Buck is satisfied with Thornton’s adoration, he still feels a calling to the wild. He knows he must be in the wild, hunting for his own food; however he wants to obey his master and keep him safe. Each day mankind and the claims of mankind slipped farther from him. Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire, and to plunge into the forest. . . . But as often as he gained the soft unbroken earth and the green shade, the love of John Thornton drew him back to the fire again. ”(49). Once John Thorntown is killed by the Yeehat Indians, Buck goes insane and rips many of their throats out before they scatter.

Once Buck’s one connection to society is shattered, he finally goes out into the wild to live. But every year to stay connected to humanity; he comes back on the day of John Thornton’s death. Jack London uses dark and light imagery to exhibit mankind. It helps the reader understand what London believes is good and bad. Through light imagery he promotes civilization and rationality. Through dark imagery he demotes impulsive and uncivilized actions. Buck has turned to his impulsive actions, through his ancestral inheritance of savagery, and his cut from any human ties.

Cite this page

The Novel “Call of the Wild”. (2016, Dec 11). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront