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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

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 hi...

Man and the Natural World

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...

Knowledge and Wisdom

In The Call of the Wild, the protagonist gains new knowledge which allows him to adapt to his surrounding. Adaptation in this novel is necessary for survival. When our protagonist is tossed into a...

Perseverance

Only by sheer determination is our protagonist able to live through the harshness of the wilderness and the sled dog lifestyle. In The Call of the Wild, determination is on a basic level about surv...

Suffering

Suffering in The Call of the Wild is largely physical. We expect our protagonist to feel a certain level of emotional turmoil after he is taken from his home, but instead his survivalist tendencies...

Loyalty

In The Call of the Wild, loyalty is rare, but strong, when it exists. It is forged by the extremities of circumstance (Thornton saved Buck from death) and repaid with similar intensity (Buck saves...

Respect and Reputation

Physical transformation becomes a gauge by which we judge our protagonist’s increasing reputation. As Buck gets stronger, faster, and more dominant, so his reputation grows and improves. Ther...

Pride

In The Call of the Wild, the thirst to prove himself is a large part of Buck’s transformation into a more powerful and dominant dog. While pride does play second fiddle to survival, it explai...

Violence

We see multiple forms of violence in this text: dogs attacking each other, men beating dogs, dogs fighting men, and the hunt and kill relationship of predator and prey. It is interesting to compare...

Fate and Free Will

A series of seemingly inevitable events in The Call of the Wild underscore the notion of destiny. Is Buck destined to leave his life of comfort and become a creature of the wild? That is the big qu...

Defeat

The willingness to accept small defeats in the name of long-term goals is a notable feature of our protagonist here. Buck realizes that he must submit to man’s weapons and to his new life as...

Competition

In The Call of the Wild, competition serves as further motivation to succeed. Buck is driven by his survivalist tendencies but also by such qualities as pride and competition. In his thirst to domi...

Friendship

Friendship is an expendable entity in the world of the wild. The dogs proceed with caution when making friends with one another, often feeling defensive and on edge about their relationships. Buck...
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