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The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild


by Jack London

The Call of the Wild Theme of Primitivity

In The Call of the Wild, primitivity is presented as the authentic and dominant side of a being. Modernization and civilization, then, go against true nature. Primitivity is tied to ancestry and history; as Buck has dreams of mankind thousands of years before, he yearns to be a part of the wild world to which his predecessors belonged. Certain feral emotions are raised in Buck: the need to hunt, the desire to kill, his lust for leadership and dominance. In the end, these emotions win out over the compassion, love, and safety of the human world.

Questions About Primitivity

  1. How does Buck's primitivity relate to the wilderness? Surely they are related.
  2. Is Buck more at home when the story begins, or when it ends? What does "home" mean to Buck?
  3. Did Buck really have to endure all that suffering in between to get to his state of primitivity? Couldn't he have just…decided to be primitive? Or not?

Chew on This

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

Although many of his actions in the wild demonstrate Buck's change as a character, his developing prowess and love for the kill serve as a basis for his new life.

Buck's love for Thornton is incompatible with his place in the wild.

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