The Call of the Wild


Points To Ponder

What is the significance of London’s use of anthropomorphism to convey Buck’s thoughts and feelings?

Throughout the novel, London imbues Buck with very human thoughts and emotions.  Buck is capable of every bit of advanced reasoning and logic as a human being.  Moreover, his emotional life is every bit as complex as the humans in the novel, and more complex than many of the humans that London portrays.  Buck has to have human emotions and thoughts in order for the reader to understand that human beings can also experience the call of the wild.  However, those thoughts and emotions are equally important when viewed as a caution against treating animals as inferior.  The brutal and horrific treatment of the dogs seems even more brutal and more horrific when the dogs are given the capability of reasoning, thought, and emotion.  Suddenly, Buck is not simply a dog, but a living, sentient creature who is being abused.

Why are Buck’s dreams of ancient man significant?

Buck’s dreams of ancient man are significant because he is drawing upon his instincts and the collective consciousness of all dogs to become a better sled dog, and then eventually the leader of a wolf pack.  These dreams allow Buck to ponder what first brought dogs to the side of man, which helps him understand why he is with men.  Is he capable of survival without the assistance of men, and if not, what is it about men that keeps him safe?  His experience with the Americans demonstrates that dogs can and will die under the guidance of an incompetent human leader. He gradually comes to realize that the dog, in his visions, seeks out the fire as much as he seeks out men; the two are united by a common fear, and together, they can conquer those fears.  As Buck shakes off his fear, he no longer needs men.  Therefore, stripped of need, his relationship with Thornton is a pure one based on mutual respect and companionship. 

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Essays About The Call of the Wild