4 January 2015
The Call of the Wild Essay
In Jack London’s novel,
The Call of the Wild
, Buck is distinguished by his ability to learn and adapt. He goes from being “the new kid on the block” to the head of the sled team, ousting another alpha dog on the way. He discovers that having to adapt to an unfamiliar, strange environment requires both physical and mental strength.
Buck is the beloved St. Bernard mix that belonged to Judge Miller in the hills of the
Santa Clara Valley in California. His mother was a great German Shepherd mix while his dad,
Elmo, was a huge Saint Bernard.
Judge Miller owns a huge mansion complex with other dogs, horses, stables, and vineyards.
Buck loves this life, carrying the Judge's grandchildren on his back and serving as the Judge's faithful companion, as his father had been before him. However, one summer day in 1897, the Judge's gardener sells him for a low price.
Throughout the novel, Buck proves that he is fit and can survive the law of the club, the law of the fang, and the laws of nature
. The law of the club is mans’ empowerment over Buck and his inability to overpower them. Buck discovers that he can survive the law of the club because he learns not to attack men when they have a weapon, for they are stronger than him. After Bucks’ encounter with the Man in the Red Sweater, “he was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it” (London 28).
The law of the fang is a
reference to Bucks’ needed adaptation to the other sled dogs and change from his pampered living to a sled dog. Finally is the law of nature, which Buck learns throughout the entire novel, as soon as he becomes a sled dog. Buck becomes a good sled dog, working as part of the team with all the other undomesticated dogs.
As a result,
Buck figures out how to protect himself from the miserable cold by burrowing under the snow, and how to find food, stealing if necessary from the other dogs to keep strong. He must always be alert, for there are dangers everywhere in the environment. If someone tries to steal his food, he attacks, for he knows he must keep himself healthy and lean.
From this moment, Buck's most dangerous enemy is Spitz, a dog who has arrived with Buck for the new adventures. Once, Spitz tried to steal his food, but “as Buck sprang to punish him, the lash of François’s whip sang through the air, reaching the culprit first; and nothing remained to Buck but to recover his bone” (London 30).
Buck becomes a harder, stronger, and more cunning dog. He regresses to the basic nature of a dog. He learns to fend for himself in order to get food, and to fight, as well as kill, for his survival.
Next, Buck discovers that he enjoys being the leader of the pack. He also thinks he is the best dog for the job. Once he killed Spitz, Francois and Perrault didn’t even make Buck the leader of the sled team. Buck became enraged and pushed himself harder than ever to achieve the roll of being the leader.
“While Perrault packed the camp outfit and loaded the sled, the dogdriver proceeded to harness the dogs. Buck trotted up to the place Spitz would have occupied as leader; but Francois, not noticing him, brought Solleks to the coveted position. In his judgement, Solleks was the best leaddog left. Buck sprang upon Solleks…