Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

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How does Buck exhibit "civil disobedience" in The Call of the Wild?

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The definition of civil disobedience will be critical here.  If the definition of civil disobedience is seen as an outward rejection or repudiation of social practices that one sees as wrong, then Buck's refusal to follow human social practices after Thornton's death could be seen as civil disobedience.  Buck refuses to follow the human society's rules and refuses to be a party to it once the Yeehat Indians kill Thornton.  It is here where Buck recognizes that he has reached a point in his own consciousness where action must be taken.  He has experienced human cruelty in his abduction, treatment with different owners, and his own experience with the brutality of human beings caused him to have doubt.  Thornton might have represented the last bonds of loyalty to humans, but once he was killed, it seemed to signal a sort of break in Buck's own mind.  This separation became Buck's own embrace of civil disobedience, stressing that individuals must  take action against that which is seen as unfair or unjust:  "Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power." Buck is not resisting an international order as much as he is rejecting the actions of humans and his "call to the wild" is his own ability to take action to bring attention to this predicament.

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