Study Guide

The Call of the Wild Fate and Free Will

By Jack London

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 question, of course, but there are other smaller issues of fate that work together to make this a theme in the novel. Are foolish men bound to die in the frozen terrain of the North? Are two alpha dogs destined to fight one another to the death? While The Call of the Wild does not question the idea that we all have free will to make choices, it does suggest that certain foreseeable events simply have to occur—it is the natural order.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. How do different men in the book deal with inevitable events? For example, you might check out Thornton and Hal.
  2. If certain events are inevitable, such as the lure of gold in the North or the clash of Buck and Spitz, are men and dogs no longer responsible for their own actions?
  3. What makes an event inevitable in The Call of the Wild? Is it the natural order of things, or characters' innate tendencies?
  4. How does Destiny relate to Buck's adaptation to the wild? Was Buck's final decision to join the wild 'inevitable?' What does 'inevitable' mean in this story, anyway?

Chew on This

While Buck may try to choose a certain future for himself, he is ultimately at the mercy of his own inevitable destiny. His character develops in a way that is beyond his control.

The backdrop of the gold rush serves to emphasize the inevitability, for both men and animal, of seeking the unknown, the mysterious, the elements of the wild.