- Published: 1903
- Publisher: Macmillan
- Genre: Adventure
- Format: Audio Book
- Quote: “But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.” —Source
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First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike. —Source
Review of the Characters:
Buck– Buck the St. Bernard is stolen from his cushy domestic life and brought to the Canadian wilderness where he must adapt or die. My only issue with the novel is how quickly Buck adjusts to his new life and also how advanced he becomes within it. He progresses quite quickly in a way I found difficult to believe, even with his sheer size and cunning it was hard to swallow the fact that a St. Bernard could walk among wolves like it’s just another Sunday stroll. The reason for this Jack London gives us:
“In this manner had fought forgotten ancestors. They quickened the old life within him, the old tricks which they had stamped into the heredity of the breed were his tricks… And when, on the still cold nights, he pointed his nose at a star and howled long and wolflike, it was his ancestors, dead and dust, pointing nose at star and howling down through the centuries and through him.” —Source
I understand instinct taking over but Buck quickly becomes the best and I found it just a bit too easy. However, with that said Buck was a wonderful protagonist to see through. His cunning speaks to us like no dialogue could and his struggle will quickly win over your heart and have you cheering for him the whole way through.
John Thornton– John was an easy man to like, he saves Buck in more than one way winning over Buck’s heart like no one else had before. Listening to the audio version sent chills down my spine as John exclaimed,
“You hit that dog one more time, I’m gonna kill ya.” —Source
It’s interesting the way John brings passion into Buck. For me, it seemed as if Jack London was trying to convey the reason Buck’s intensity for Thornton was so strong was because Buck had suffered a hard life. When Buck was living his comfy life his feelings never reached beyond genuine fondness, but after living in the wild and suffering abuse, a vessel is opened within him allowing the depths of feelings to deepen farther than was ever thought possible. The relationship between Buck and Thornton doesn’t happen until toward the end but is such a prominent part of the story as each shed light on the other.
Review of the Story
As a dog lover, this book was both wonderful and painful. While you fall in love with Buck his journey is a hard one to watch as he suffers from abuse and the dangers of the wild. Luckily he is able to adapt and learns quickly the way of the wild. Life is not fair for Buck, something he learns within the first few pages.
“A man with a club is a law-maker, a man to be obeyed, but not necessarily conciliated.” —Source
The story is exciting and quick (a bit too quick in my opinion) and strives to describe the feeling of becoming one with nature. London treads on survival of the fittest, exposing Buck to numerous dangerous situations where only the strong survive and the weak die. He describes the way dogs challenge each other as they ultimately fight to the death and the rest of the pack circles them and watches. When one dog goes down, the circle pounces and finishes him off.
“So that was the way. No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you.” —Source
The story will appeal to all those with an adventurous soul, those unafraid of the unknown, for that is where Buck wanders. The Call of the Wild follows Bucks hardships, showing his growth from adapting to belonging in the wilderness.
Review of the Writing:
Jack London’s writing hits the nail on the spot when describing feeling. Every word he writes exudes adventure, wild and freedom. You can feel the crisp air that Buck breathes and hear the call siren that sounds in Buck’s heart.
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” —Source
London captures the exuberance of being within this novel and highlights the idea of primitivism through Buck’s tale. He uses concise language to describe fleeting thoughts and feelings that add to the simplistic way that Buck’s mind works, adding to the basic idea of survival of the fittest. London’s idea of telling his tale through a dog’s point of view was a brilliant one and one that he kept intact throughout the whole novel. Inside Buck’s head we are able to see instinct take over and a mindset that can only take place within the wild.
I think the most important aspect of London’s writing is that it transcends time. There were no parts that I was left baffled or confused by language as London’s writing is clear and to the point. Many generations will be able to pick up this novel and start without any bumps, the sign of well written novel.
“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.” —Source
There’s a reason that this novel holds up over a hundred years and that reason is Jack London’s writing. He captures the essence of what it means to truly be alive within Buck and the Canadian wilderness. When Buck hears that call, you will hear it too. It will compel every cell to answer and to break free and run wild. Read this book and listen for the call. I also recommend giving the audio version a try, it’s all anticipation and excitement making for a great experience. There were times when I was gasping with nerves or fear during Buck’s adventures, all the while browsing the internet. I feel it necessary to add that this was my first audio book experience and if you are hesitant about audio books, I urge you to start with this one as there is no dialogue only feeling and narration which makes everything easy to follow.
P.S.– My next audio book is White Fang by Jack London