Jack London’s The Call of the Wild explores the relationship between man and dog as they struggle to survive the unforgiving wilderness. The protagonist being Buck the dog, the story reveals the man-dog relationship uniquely through the eyes of the animal. Throughout the novel, Buck has many different masters, yet he only feels love towards the first and last one mentioned in the book. With Judge Miller, he feels love because his owner gives him everything a domesticated animal could ask for, while Buck’s loyalty to John Thornton is based on mutual respect and a symbiotic relationship. For all other humans, Buck holds a deep hatred, and because of this hatred he eventually drifts further away from his beloved master and closer to his roots in the wild. In fact, Buck’s downward spiral of devolution can be attributed more to the treatment he endured from his human masters more than anything else, even his canine peers whom he emulates in his transformation from a house-pet to the alpha male of a pack of wolves. Buck spends the halcyon days of his youth on the blissful estate of his master Judge Miller, where his only companions are the judge’s children and a few other animals, none of which possess the necessary survival instincts to influence Buck’s own instincts. However, he does accompany the boys on hunting and fishing trips, and this helps keep him physically fit, unlike the other dogs of the family who lounge around all day. It seems almost as if Buck is the master of the domain, as London clearly states that the “whole realm was his” (2). Living in a domesticated environment where he hardly has to struggle for anything, Buck has apparently forgotten the instincts of his ancestors, to whom nothing comes easy and every day is a struggle. Nevertheless, his first encounter with a man whom he cannot trust brings out the inner wolf in him, and at this point he leaves his entire life of royal treatment behind him. This suggests that the lifestyle he led at the...
Cited: Benoit, Raymond. “Jack London’s ‘The Call of the Wild’.” American Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2, Part 1 (Summer, 1968, pp. 246-248. Johns Hopkin University Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2711035.
Bolan, Chloe. Overview of "The Call of the Wild," Novels for Students, Vol. 8, The Gale Group, 2000.
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