Jack London's Call of the Wild classic fiction

Of all of Jack London's books, why does this cross-bred dog story wind up his best?



About this book:

The Call of the Wild is a novel by American author Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel's central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust and survive cruel treatments, fight to dominate other dogs, and survive in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts through lessons he learns, to emerge as a leader in the wild.

London lived for most of a year in the Yukon and gained from that experience material for the book. The story was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in the summer of 1903; a month later it was released in book form. The novel's great popularity and success made a reputation for London. Much of its appeal derives from the simplicity with which London presents the themes in an almost mythical form.

The story opens with Buck, a large and powerful St. Bernard-Scotch Collie, living happily in California's Santa Clara Valley as the pet of Judge Miller. However he is stolen by the gardener's assistant and shipped to Seattle. Put in a crate, Buck is unfed and beaten by the "man in the red sweater". When released, he attacks the man but is badly beaten and taught to respect the law of the club. Buck is then sold to a pair of French-Canadian dispatchers from the Canadian government, François and Perrault, who take him with them to the Klondike region of Canada. There they train him as a sled dog. From his teammates, he quickly learns to survive cold winter nights and the pack society. A rivalry develops between Buck and the vicious, quarrelsome lead dog, Spitz. Buck eventually beats Spitz in a fight "to the death". Spitz is killed by the pack after his defeat and Buck becomes the leader of the team.

The team is then sold to a "Scottish half breed" man working the mail service. The dogs must carry a heavy load to the mining areas, and the journey they make is tiresome and long. Some of the dogs become sickly and are shot.

Buck's next owners are a trio of stampeders—Hal, Charles, and a woman named Mercedes—inexperienced at surviving in the Northern wilderness. They struggle to control the sled and ignore warnings that the spring melt poses dangers. They overfeed the dogs and starve them when the food runs out. On their journey they meet John Thornton, an experienced outdoorsman, who notices that the dogs have been poorly treated and are in a weakened condition. He warns the trio against crossing the river, but they refuse his advice and order Buck to move on. Exhausted, starving, and sensing the danger ahead, Buck refuses and continues to lie unmoving in the snow... (source: Wikipedia)

About the author:

John Griffith "Jack" London (born John Griffith Chaney, January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916)was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone. He is best remembered as the author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life".[citation needed] He also wrote of the South Pacific in such stories as "The Pearls of Parlay" and "The Heathen", and of the San Francisco Bay area in The Sea Wolf. (source: Wikipedia)

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