The Call of the Wild
by Jack London
The Call of the Wild Introduction
In A Nutshell
Published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is Jack London’s famous novel. Set during the Alaskan (Klondike) Gold Rush, the novel’s protagonist is a dog named Buck who is taken from a life of comfort and thrown into the wilds of Alaska and northern Canada. Since the novel deals with Buck as though he were a person with thoughts and emotions, it is known for its interesting and different point-of-view. The Call of the Wild focuses on the idea of primitivity – what is wild about you as a person…or an animal – that harkens back to the time before cell phones, cars, judges and houses.
Why Should I Care?
Because you’ve felt The Call yourself. And we don’t just mean at a party outside when there’s a twenty-person line for the bathroom and you say "screw it" and find yourself a lovely little tree. Like it or not, there’s some natural hardwiring you have to deal with. You know when you’re in a train station and that stranger looks so attractive that you almost can’t handle it? Or when you were a kid and realized that lots of girls actually do like playing house and many boys like destroying LEGO castles? Or when you see a baby and start going all gaga over it? We all have basic tendencies that can seem to pop up out of nowhere, but since we don’t want to fit into silly stereotypes, a lot of us decide to fight them.
The Call of the Wild makes an interesting point: maybe we’re not supposed to. And Jack London isn’t necessarily making the claim that we should all run around naked, killing and eating with our bare hands. Instead, he uses a dog to ask the question of what all this civilization is really doing for us. Because aside from the starvation, beatings, and the nearly freezing to death, Buck might just be better off in the wild than where he was before this whole mess began. Why? Because it’s what he was meant to do, what his body was built for. So the next time you find yourself on the verge of giving in to those primal instincts, take a minute. And pick up the phone, because The Wild is still calling.