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Themes

Nature in The Call of the Wild is a force to be reckoned with. In the frozen terrain of northern Canada, Buck experiences starvation, exhaustion, and, of course, bitter cold. But the natural world isn’t purely antagonistic; it also stimulates the dogs, shapes them, and molds them into stronger, more powerful beings. The wild is an antagonist and a guide at the same time.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. How does Buck's changing relationship with the wild relate to his changing relationship with man? As one gets stronger, does the other necessarily get weaker? Could Buck ever have both, or did he have to choose one over the other?
  2. What's up with all these moments of "aliveness," and how come there's always something dying at the same time?
  3. How do changes in the natural world (i.e., seasons) relate to Buck's own internal changes? Because sometimes they seem in parallel and sometimes they oppose each other.
  4. How does violence relate to nature? You know, all that kill or be killed business. Does that mean Buck has to suffer to join the wild?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Buck adjusting to the wild around him is ultimately representative of his accepting the wild within. These internal adaptations are far more important to this character's change than the external, physical changes he undergoes.

While Buck gains much by adapting to the wild, he loses important aspects of his original persona, such as morality and domesticity.

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