The Call of the Wild: Theme

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Theme: Survival of the Fittest

The Call of the Wild is a about a dog named Buck. More importantly, his transformation from the old Buck, the civilized Buck, to the new ferocious Buck, who must learn to adapt to the dangerous life of the Sled Dog, where survival is the only goal. In The Call of the Wild, determination and dominance are on a basic level of survival. Buck is determined to survive, but also to be leader. Buck learns the hard way that “kill or be killed” is the only way of life among the dogs of the Arctic, the moment he steps off the boat and watches as his friend Curly, Newfoundland, was the victim. “They closed in upon her, snarling and yelping in a mass attack. Within seconds, Curly was dead” (Pg 28). The theme of this story is “Survival of the Fittest.” The idea that species adapt and change by natural selection with the best suited mutations becoming dominant. In other words, animals who are born with better traits are the ones who survive. Four words that describe Buck’s will have to accommodate to for if he wants to survive. But while you might argue that Buck was born with all the right genes that lead to his survival. “His father, Elmo, had been a huge St. Bernard… for his mother, Shep, had been a Scotch shepherd dog” (Pg 2), the truth is, while his survival had to do with his breed and genetic traits, it had more to do with his determination to dominate and will to survive. Only by sheer determination is Buck, our protagonist able to survive through the bitterness of the wilderness and the sled dog way of life. We see this struggle particularly in Buck’s conflict with Spitz, in his determination to become the lead dog on Francois and Perrault’s team, and, at the end of the novel, in the way that he battles his way to the leadership of the wolf pack. Buck does not merely want to survive; he wants to dominate.
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