The Effects of Regionalism on the Works of Jack London

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The Affects of Regionalism on the Works of Jack London

In 1903, Jack London published his novel Call of the Wild, and with it made his mark on literature in America and achieved worldwide acclaim. It’s a story of a dog named Buck, who was snatched from his luxurious home in Santa Clara, California, and transported to the Yukon Territory to work as a labor dog during the Klondike gold rush in 1897. Buck assimilates to survive among abusive men and vicious dogs, and in the process he discovers the urge to revert to his primordial state and return to the Wild. In 1906, London published his novel White Fang, this book about a wolf, called White Fang, who also lived in the Yukon Territory. White Fang was born in the Wild to a wolf father and a tamed mother. When his father dies and his mother returns to the Indians who had tamed her, White Fang goes with her. His mother is traded to a different tribe, but White Fang remains with the Indians. He lives with humans for the rest of his life, but never abandons the fierceness that was his heritage from the Wild. Later, a man rescues White Fang from abuse and takes him to live with him in Southern California. As exhibited in the brief synopses of the two novels, Jack London uses his particular knowledge of geographical regions, specifically the Yukon Territory and California, and his own personal life experiences to influence his writing. With the publishing of Call of the Wild gaining him world renown, “London became America’s most famous and best-selling author- the first, in fact, to ever become a millionaire by his pen- and transformed himself into a public personality.” (Gale, Centage Learning) With this fame, London started to become more and more self-indulgent, his lifestyle becoming more lavish and luxurious. He began to drink in excess, starting brawls in bars and providing good subject matter for the press. “As much as he resented the hostile attention of the press, London nevertheless increasingly offered up his own accounts of his private life for public consumption.” (Gale, Centage Learning) But the increasing narcissism began to drag London lower in the public eye. His novels and stories, the very things that brought him such good fortune, started to wane in worth as London wrote more and more about himself, foregoing the creation of a character in lieu of writing of his own adventures. He became overconfident concerning his writing skills, and indeed complacent and unwilling to exert himself. His book Jack London was especially lacking in quality, and evidently exclusively about himself and his life. Charles C Walcutt noted that “London spoke directly and immediately to his readers, assuming that the smallest detail of his life would be of interest to them.” London began to lose the elements of his writing that had originally drawn readers to him, thus causing his fan base to begin to shrink. That is not to say, however, that Jack London’s life never influenced his greater works, such as Call of the Wild and White Fang, for without London’s personal knowledge involving the Klondike region and the 1897 gold rush, he would have never been able to create such a believable and in-depth account of the area. When London set off for Alaska in 1897, he hoped to get rich from finding gold. He failed, finding hardly any gold; but he got lucky in another way. His written works about the Klondike garnered more income than the gold he could have found in the Klondike by a huge margin, and made him famous even to this day. The Call of the Wild draws significant influence from London’s time spent in the Klondike. His experiences directly shape the thorough descriptions of Buck’s environment, specifically the detailed landscaping and climates. As an example of London’s evocative imagery, on page 144 of Call of the Wild London describes the ruthless and brutal climate of the Klondike from the point of view of Buck. “They went across divides in summer blizzards,...
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