What is the tone of The Call of the Wild?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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 Jack London presented some autobiographical elements in this novel, such as his own experiences in the Klondike which were both exciting and dangerous. Similarly Buck had to adapt quickly and learn

 the "law of the club" and the "law of the fang,"

London does not stick to the sentimental literature of the period. He is at pains to ensure the reader does not see this as a corny story about a dog that can think and rationalise like a human

Not that Buck reasoned it out....unconsciously he accommodated himself to the new mode of life.

This novel became very popular as readers were

drawn to it as an adventure story, a popular genre in turn-of-the-century America.

This all contributes to a tone that at times is contemplative, as the reader must consider Buck's character development, especially when survival is key. 

The tone can be dramatic: Buck's challenges are both daring and even death-defying - how much drama is there  when your dog is prepared to jump off a cliff - reminding the reader that he really is a dog without the ability to consider the consequences:

Only by jumping in front of Buck does he prevent him from plunging to his death.

and another example:

The domesticated generations fell from him," and "instincts long dead became alive again."

Due to the mythical element some have said that there is a romantic undertone. Buck begins to heed the "call of the wild" that he hears through his ancestors.

 Although he starts out as a real character, Buck is transformed into the mythical "Ghost Dog."

The tone could also be considered sympathetic and non-judgmental as a domesticated animal gives in to his 'wild' side:

Buck's spirit is beaten, but not broken; he learns to adapt to his changing environment.

Refer to the eNotes study guide and navigate to the relevant information to help you gain an understanding.

 

Sources:

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