Comment on the importance of the setting in the first passage ending "king over all..." in "Call of the Wild".

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The last line of the passage reads,

"...he was king, - king over all creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller's place, humans included".

The line refers to Buck's idyllic domain at the place of his birth, Judge Miller's place, a large estate "in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley".  The setting is significant here because it is the epitome of warmth and benevolence; it is an easy place of which to be king.  There is little conflict in this environment, little need for basic survival skills to be put to work.  The people live in harmony with each other and nature, and although there are other dogs on the place, "they (do) not count".  They include a Japanese pug, a Mexican hairless, and others who come and go.  There is no creature to present a serious challenge to Buck's kingship.

The setting as described in these lines present a stark contrast to the environment into which Buck will be thrown only a few paragraphs later.  Buck is indeed a magnificent dog, but he is untested and naive.  When he is forced into the teeming ranks of the men and their animals "rushing into the Northland" in search of gold, he must quickly learn the basic natural order of things in which only the strongest survive.  He will have to be stronger and ever fight to keep a place of ascendancy, or he will die.  Buck will have to rely on his basic instincts, buried deeply and never before tapped even though he had been "king" in his sheltered domain.