The Call of the Wild


Chapter 1 to Chapter 3

Chapter One

The novel opens on an estate in California’s Santa Clara Valley. The estate is owned by Judge Miller. The estate is an example of tremendous wealth and a sign of civilization. The estate is large and has a number of dogs as well as horses. There are a number of employees who work on the estate, so that in many ways, there are humans in service of animals on the estate. While there are a number of dogs on the estate, Buck, a four-year-old St. Bernard/ shepherd mix is Judge Miller’s favorite dog. The other dogs are either indoor dogs or outdoor dogs, but Buck is given the run of the entire estate and is able to go outside and stay indoors. In fact, Buck’s existence on the estate appears ideal. He has no working obligations, but is a treasured pet. His days consist of playing and receiving wonderful care. He has not ever experienced any hardship; his needs have always been met, and the human beings in his life have always been good to him.

Buck has great relationships with the humans in his life at the beginning of the novel. Although he is a very large dog, he plays with the children in the family. Sometimes they ride on him, but that is the closest thing he knows to physical labor. He is beloved by the judge, as was his father. Buck seems content with this existence. He reflects that his existence is peaceful, and he does not seem to be seeking anything more from his existence. In fact, Buck begins the novel as a symbol of innocence. Never having known hardship or pain, he does not necessarily even understand that they exist. Unaware of anything other than his pampered life on the estate, he does not even imagine an alternative existence, much less an existence so different from his own—though that soon will change for Buck.

While Buck is not consciously aware of alternatives and seems very placid and accepting of life on the estate, London gives the reader some clues that he may not be completely satisfied with his existence. Buck is described as resisting customs or traditions. Furthermore, while...

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