© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild


by Jack London

The Call of the Wild Theme of 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 these forms of violence: which are natural? Which count as abuse? If men use weapons (like clubs or whips) on the dogs, is this an unfair form of violence compared to, say, Buck hunting down and killing a weaker creature? These are the types of questions raised in the text.

Questions About Violence

  1. How does the violence of men differ from that of dogs? What do men use violence for, and what do the dogs use it for? What does it represent to each of them?
  2. Does Buck have to get in touch with his violent side, or subdue it? Does it help him in the North, or just result in a lot of unnecessary bruises?
  3. To what degree does Buck assimilate violence? That is, does he get very violent himself? Does he start to use it himself? Would this be a step in the right or wrong direction for him as he adapts to the wild?

Chew on This

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

London's extensive use of violence in The Call of the Wild serves to emphasize the sheer brutality of the wilderness, particularly in contrast to Buck's initial domesticity.

While many changes contribute to Buck's adaptation, he is not a true part of the wild until he adapts to the violence of the natural world.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...