The Call Of The Wild Main Idea English Literature Essay

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1st Jan 1970 English Literature Reference this


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There is a dog named Buck, who is the main character of the famous novel The Call of the Wild written by Jack London, the United States novelist and short-story writer. The Call of the Wild was the book which made London well-known in the republic of letters. Although it’s a story about a dog’s struggling to survive with uncomplicated plots, it is regarded as a classic of American literature.

Buck was actually a civilized dog in the South. He used to live a quite comfortable life in California’s Santa Clara Valley as the pet of Judge, but Buck’s happy life came to an end when men discovered gold in the Klondike region of Canada and a great demand arisen for strong dogs to pull sleds. Buck is kidnapped and sold to dog traders by a gardener’s assistant in order to pay a gambling debt. Although Buck fought against those people who planned the trade fiercely, he failed to defeat the “man in the red sweater”. After being beaten badly, he was taught to obey and respect the law of the club.

Subsequently, he was shipped north to the Klondike and began his tough life as a dog used to haul the sled. Buck was really clever and adapted himself into the harsh environment quickly. Also, he is not an easily contented dog. Though Buck was born in the judge’s house and used to being domesticated and cultivated, there was still strong ambition which keeps flowing from his inner world when he first got to the wild world. He was anxious to show his ability and, after suffering endless fights between human beings, dogs, the weak and the strong, Buck finally became the leader of the dog team.

While, that didn’t last too long, Buck’s masters turned the team over to a mail carrier for the sake of money. They were forced to carry much heavier loads than they used to. As a consequence, the dog team was badly exhausted at the end of the journey, and then the mail carrier sold them to a group of American gold hunters -Hal, Charles, and Mercedes. However, the conditions of the dog team didn’t become any better. By contrast, those new masters are extremely inexperienced and out of place in the wilderness. They had no plan and didn’t prepare enough food for both the dogs and themselves.

As a result, some weaker dogs soon died. Of an original team of fourteen, only five dogs including Buck survived when they limped into John Thornton’s camp. Then Thornton warns them that the ice over which they were traveling was melting and that they might fall through it. But Hal dismissed these warnings and tried to get across immediately. The other dogs began to move forward, but Buck refused to move any further. When Hal began to beat him, Thornton intervened and helped Buck to escape from his control. Hal was urgent to get across, so he gave up Buck and started the sled again. Then the misfortune happened without any sign – the ice broke open and swallowed both the humans and the dogs.

After that, Buck devoted his loyalty to his new master totally. They formed a deep friendship. Buck saved Thornton for several times and loved his master very much. While Buck was more and more attracted by the wild, and he felt as if he was being called away from civilization into the wilderness. During their adventure, Thornton was killed by the Yeehats, so Buck avenged himself on the Yeehats and killed many people. After revenge, Buck obeyed his longing for the wild. At the call of the wolves, Buck went into the wild and became the leader of the herd of wolf, but every year he would return to the place where Thornton died, to mourn his master before returning to his life in the wild.

That’s the whole story of the call of the wild, though not difficult to read, there are still some interesting or meaningful sentences that I’d like to share with you.

Good Sentences

“He jumped back in surprise. The soft, white thing was also falling through the air, and it fell onto him. He tried to smell it, and then caught some on his tongue. It bit like fire, and then disappeared. He tried again and the same thing happened. People were watching him and laughing, and Buck felt ashamed, although he did not know why. It was his first snow.”[1] That is the description of Buck’s first meeting with snow. I think it’s quite vivid and interesting because it makes Buck become real and quite cute. We can easily imagine his funny actions and curiosity about new things that he had never seen.

“Buck threw himself against his harness, and pulled. He held his body low to the ground, his head down and forward, and his feet dug into the hard snow. Harder and harder he pulled. Suddenly, the sledge moved a centimetre…two…three…and, little by little, it started to go forward across the snow. With each second it went a little faster, and Thornton ran behind, calling to Buck as he pulled the sledge towards the end of the hundred metres.”[2] This is the classic plot about Buck’s wining a $1,600 wager for Thornton by pulling a sled carrying a thousand-pound load. These sentences progressively showed us the efforts Buck took and make all of us expect to know the result. It leads us to that occasion and become one of those who are watching there.

“Buck came out of the trees faster than the north wind¼Œand threw himself on the Yeehats like a mad dog. He jumped at the first man¼Œand tore out his throat¼Œkilling him at once¼ŽHe jumped onto a second¼Œthen a third man¼Œgoing each time for the throat¼ŽThe Yeehats could neither escape nor use their arrows¼ŽBuck moved like a storm among them¼Œtearing¼Œbiting¼Œdestroying¼Œin a madness that he had never known before¼ŽNothing could stop him…” [3] It is a special part of this story for Buck’s master, who is acknowledged by Buck himself, Thornton was killed by Yeehats. This part is a little bloody, but with quite strong emotion. Buck’s anger expressed his love to Thornton, and at the same time, his soul to the wild. He used a violent and cruel way to revenge on those people who killed Thornton, to show his regret of failing to protect Thornton and also, to express his anguish of losing his master.

I think these sentences are very worth sharing and reading for times, so that we can experience different sides of Buck, such as loveliness, loyalty, sadness, fierceness and so on.


I am always interested in natural creatures and everything about them. Jack London is one of my favourite American writers because he is quite good at writing that kind of topics, and he can always show something great through little characters. Since he was born in poverty, he was largely self- educated and changed a lot of jobs, such as sailor, hobo, Alaskan gold miner, and militant socialist. The Call of the Wild is a story based on the Klondike gold rush, so it will be more real as he had been to the north himself so that he could observe the local dogs and get a clearer picture about the reality of their lives there. So, it’s not difficult for me to decide which book I should choose.

As is known to all, Jack London suffered a lot from his living environment and also learnt more about the “law of club and fang”-the Survival of the Fittest. That’s also the main theme of the call of the wild. We can see that Buck survived through a series of natural sections. Buck was quite used to the “law of love and fellowship” when he was in the Judge’s ranch, while everything changed at the time when he was kidnapped. That is the very beginning of Buck’s first touch of the law of survival. In Buck’s world, only those strong and adaptable ones can survive.

We can also find something about heredity. Buck had lived at the Judge’s ranch for years since he was born, and he seemed to be friendly and casually just like a real pet. However, his inherited instincts rapidly came out when he was exposed to a new environment. He adapted so well for he inherited the fierce instincts he needed to survive, to fight and to revenge. Surely the harsh environment shaped him, but his heredity definitely played an important part.

I think the most attractive and exciting part of this novel is Buck’s winning a $1,600 wager for Thornton by pulling a sled carrying a thousand-pound load. It’s the loyalty, faith, friendship, and love between them which led them to win the wager. Nevertheless, just because of those things between them, when Thornton was killed, all of us feel heart-broken at the thought of Buck’s anger and sorrow.

In this novel, Buck became the leader of a herd of wolves eventually, and then the story seems to end like that, a lonely and strong winner, but I think Buck will find a brilliant way to another world. Just like he struggled to survival, he will also get used to his new life soon. I feel quite warm and hopeful for I know that Buck will never forget Thornton. He, and his companions, will call into the night, and sing a song from a younger world. [4]


[1] Jack London, The call of the wild: and related readings / New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, c2000.

[2] Jack London, The call of the wild: and related readings / New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, c2000.

[3] Jack London, The call of the wild: and related readings / New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, c2000.

[4] Jack London, The call of the wild: and related readings / New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, c2000.

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