Gold in the Yukon and Naturalism: Jack London’s Novella "The Call of the Wild"

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Imagine this: Gold was just discovered in the Yukon Territory of Canada, and many gold miners rush to the North to see if they can strike rich. However, in order to do so, they need big, strong dogs with warm coats to protect them from the biting cold. As a result, a dog from the sunny state of California is dog napped and taken to be sold to anyone who is willing to buy him. When the dog is sold, he is shipped to the cold North. As he gets out of the boat, a chilling wind runs past him and, he realizes that he isn’t in California anymore. As the dog continues to live life with the other sled dogs, he realizes that in the North only the toughest can survive. The very same happens to Buck, a half St. Bernard and half sheepdog, in Jack London’s novella The Call of the Wild. Buck lives a very comfortable life on Judge Miller’s estate in the Santa Clara Valley of California. However, when the Klondike Gold Rush occurs, many men are in need of strong dogs like Buck. Manuel, the gardener, kidnaps Buck in order to pay off his lottery debts. Buck is then shipped to different parts of the Western Coast of the U.S. When he arrives in Seattle, he gets in a fight with a dog trader in a red sweater, which teaches him that he must obey men with clubs. Buck is sold to Francois and Perrualt, French mail carriers, and is shipped to the North. As Buck lives in the North, he begins to get in touch with his wild side. Buck is given to many different owners, until he finally meets John Thornton. He loves Thornton and wishes to stay with him forever, but on a hunting trip for gold, Buck begins to hear the call of the wild beckon to him louder and louder. He finds himself having to choose whether to stay with Thornton or go out into the wild. However, t...

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...ving on things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survive.” (56) As Buck is hunting, he realizes that the only way to survive in the North is by being stronger than anything else. He notices that the only reason that he is still alive is because he is a strong killer.

All in all, The Call of the Wild is a classic example of Naturalism because it contains many characteristics of Naturalism like the time, the geographical location, and the concept of survival of the fittest. From Buck’s first encounter with snow to him joining a pack of wild wolves, Naturalism is always present in The Call of the Wild. The examples of Naturalism in The Call of the Wild help show the reader the changes in Buck from a tame pet to a wild animal and the reasons for those changes.
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