My Personal Response to The Call of the Wild by Jack London


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My Personal Response to The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The novel The Call of the Wild tells a story about how Buck, a domesdicated dog in the "sun-kissed" Santa Clara, managed to survive in the wilds of Klondike. Jack London conveyed many of his own ideas about living in this novel by telling readers what Buck went through to adjust to the harsh realities of life in the frosty North, where survival was the only imprerative.
Throughout Buck's adjustment there were several turning-points which forced him to understand better of the rules of the wild world. The first one was Curly's death. When Buck first arrived in the north, he watched a friendly dog named Curly brutally killed by a group of vicious sled dogs, only because of her trying to make friends with one of them. The tragic passing of Curly not only left Buck in a shock of the wolf manner of fighting, but also symbolized his departure from the old, comfortable life of a pet in a warm climate and his entrance into a new world where the only law was "the law of club and fang".
However, Curly's death was only a beginning of the life-and-death battles serving as markers of Buck's gradual integration into his new environment. When Curly was killed, Buck recognized that he was in a world where it was to kill or to be killed, where power was truly the power over life and death. So once Spitz,the lead dog of the pack, feared his's power, Buck realized that he must exert it in order to survive. All of the dogs either have power,and must exert it on order to survive, or they give up their power to a bigger and stronger dog and can merely hope that that dog will protect them.Buck's instinct deterred him from the latter choice. His appearance of the power must lead to the assertion of his power. The only other option for him was death. So Buck exerted his power to defeat Spitz and became the ruler of the pack.
Speaking of instinct, there came another turning-point of Buck's life. When Buck led the team into John Thornton's camp, he did not conciously know why he did not get up. He only had a vague feeling of impending doom, and this feeling saved his life when the overburdened sled fell through the ice along with its owners.

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The last of Buck's turning-points was his attack on the Yeehats. In the closing chapters of the novel, Buck felt the call of life in the wild drawing him away from mankind, away from campfires and towns, and into the forest. The only thing that prevented him from going,that kept him tied to the world of men, was his love for John Thornton. When the Yeehat Indians killed Thornton, Buck's last tie to humanity was cut, and he became free to attack the Yeehats. To attack a human being would once have been unthinkable for Buck, and his willingness to do so now symbolized the fact that his transformation was complete, that he had truly embraced his wild nature.
There was one theme that London kept coming back to from the beginning to the end of the book, that is Charles Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest". It is quite obvious that London associated much of Buck's survival in the cruel, uncaring world to his instincts,which were something he inherited from his ancestors. The novel suggests that Buck's success in the frozen North was not merely a matter of learning the ways of the wild but rather recovering the primitive instincts and memories that his ancestors possessed. He survived because he was genetically more suited to that environment than many of the other dogs who were there.
It is very true, I should say, that it was Buck's instinct which made him the fittest survivor in the wild of Klondike. Actually, not only animal instincts are mentioned in the book,but also human instincts. Once having shaken off the trappings of civilization, men like Francois, Perrault and John Thornton had a better access to their instincts. Consiquently, they managed to go through multiple dangerous incidents. In contrast, Hal, Mercedes and Charles were so suffused woth their possessions, which emphasized the difference between the wild,where the value of an object lies in its immediate usefulness, and civilization, where the value of an object lies in its ability to symbolize the wealth of its possessor, that they failed to access their instinctsand died. Similarly, John Thornton's inability to recognize the true value of life in the wild led to his death at the end of the novel.
Another theme I found when reading the novel was morality. I'v always taken for granted that morality is a virtue, a noble thing. However, in this novel, London challenged this idea. Loyalty, for example, was a noble idea when Buck lived with Judge Miller. He certainly felt loyal to the Judge when he protected his grandchildren or walked steadfastly by his sons. But his loyalty was never tested and would never be tested. In Klondike, Buck and the other dogs did not perform selfless acts or sacrifice their own interests solely for others. However, they also enforce a strict code of putting the survival os the group as a wholeabove the mere survial of the individual. The strength of the group's loyalty suggests that loyalty based on self-interest is ultimately stronger and more meaningful than loyalty based on a noble idea. So is it true of other moralities.
Through out the whole book, London kept reminding us of the importance of being practical. But at last he did mention something romantic, that is Buck's love towards John Thornton. And this is my favourite part of the book. While I agree with the idea that in both the wild and civilization there are underlying social codes, hierarchies and laws that we have to understand and abide by, I don't think we always have to consider the so-called priority. No offence to other species, but being unpractical, in other words, being romantic, is human being's peculiar achievement. Buck answered the call of the wild because he had to keep himself alive. However, today we don't live in a world that we can't survive with or without doing something, which means we actually can afford to be romantic. Ignoring the rules(like survival of the fittest) once in a while can be interesting. For instance, I'm always willing to spend an evening enjoying movie or ballet if I really want to even though I have tasks to fulfill. Sometimes we even sacrifice our physical needs in order to extend our spiritual world.
I find this novel inspiring because it reminds me of both the things essential and the things optional in my life. Besides, Buck's character of being tough, flexible but at the same time imaginary is my favourite personality.


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