Study Guide

The Call of the Wild Symbolism, Imagery, and Allegory

By Jack London

Symbolism, Imagery, and Allegory

The man by the fire

Buck’s dreams of sitting by a fire with some sort of primitive form of man might represent his getting in touch with his past, his ancestry, the great tradition of existing in the harsh wilderness, of loyalty between dog and master, of the hunt, of darkness, and so on. His visions increase in intensity as the novel progresses, suggesting there’s some sort of change going on in Buck. Well, yes, there is the obvious outer change as his body hardens and he grows stronger, but we’re also talking about the shift in his desires as he comes to long for the full moon howling routine more than the chewing slippers routine.

Judge Miller’s house in the Santa Clara Valley

Since there’s something Eden-like about Buck’s original home in the Santa Clara Valley, we’re thinking it represents a sort of ideal, a paradise. And, we think if you really wanted to, you could make all sorts of religious analogies to the story of the Biblical Adam and Eve, and how they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.

The Lone Wolf

This lone wolf is like the wild counterpart to our boy Buck. When the two form a close friendship, it’s about Buck’s deeper longing to join the wild. The lone wolf enters the text at a point where we can see Buck’s raging inner turmoil. He wants to hang out with the wolf, but he is also loyal to Thornton. Then he wants to be feral and kill things, but he still loves the man and can’t leave him behind. It seems like all of the desires that Buck is feeling get thrown together in this lone wolf.