Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London
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What does the title of The Call of the Wild suggest about what the book will be about?

The title of The Call of the Wild suggests that the book will be about a transformation from a civilized mode of existence to a comparatively wild one. This transformation plays out in the character of Buck, a domesticated California dog who travels to the Yukon and Alaska and takes on a more wolf-like state.

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The title of Jack London's celebrated novel The Call of the Wild suggests a transformation from civilization to wildness. In particular, this entails the transformation of a domesticated dog, Buck, into a more ancestral, primordial pattern of behavior akin to that of wolves. At the beginning of the story,...

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The title of Jack London's celebrated novel The Call of the Wild suggests a transformation from civilization to wildness. In particular, this entails the transformation of a domesticated dog, Buck, into a more ancestral, primordial pattern of behavior akin to that of wolves. At the beginning of the story, Buck is a domesticated St. Bernard/Scotch Shepherd mix who enjoys a carefree, civilized life in the sunny Santa Clara Valley on Judge Miller's tranquil estate. As a civilized dog, Buck has no desire to embrace the spirit of his primordial ancestors and enjoys his easy life. Unfortunately, Buck is stolen by one of Judge Miller's gardeners and taken to the Northland, where he is sold to French-Canadian mail couriers.

In the Northland, Buck is forced to revert to his natural instincts and adapts into a ruthless, callous beast who relies on his strength, tenacity, and toughness to survive. The more time Buck spends in the hostile Northland, the more he begins to experience the eponymous call as he fantasizes about his primordial ancestors running free in the wilderness. Towards the end of the story, Buck's master, John Thorton, is murdered and Buck finally embraces the call of the wild by completely rejecting civilization and running with wolves. Overall, the title alludes to the spirit of wilderness that draws Buck towards a more primordial, wolf-like state of being.

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