While proclaiming to go into each reading as an open-minded peruser, I confess that my expectations for The Call of the Wild were not at all high. The presumption I now acknowledge was the belief that this was a ‘boy’s book about a dog out in the wilds’. So much for my lack of impartiality. Fortunately, this was that wonderful surprise made all the sweeter as it was so unexpected.
We take the journey in 1897 during the Klondike Gold Rush with the half St. Bernard, half Scotch shepherd Buck as our guide. An idle life in California is quickly transformed when Buck is kidnapped to be sold as a sled dog to prospectors. Brutalized and worked hard, Buck quickly sets himself apart by rising to the occasion and heeding the call.
A quick learner, Buck adapts easily to his new environment and exceeds the expectations of his masters. He is beaten with clubs, sees the cruelty of both men and dogs, withstands temperatures 50 degrees below zero, and survives with little food yet each obstacle seems to strengthen his resolve. As the call gets stronger and stronger, Buck is more than ready to answer.
Buck’s nemesis, Spitz, is feared by both the dogs and the men. He is the self-declared leader of the pack and intends to remain so and is always at the ready for a death match, even when unprovoked. He meets his match with Buck in a brutal battle.
John Thornton becomes Buck’s master after he rescues him from a cruel beating by an ignorant prospector. He is the first man to treat Buck with respect and earns a rightful place in the dog’s heart. Loyalty between man and dog is evident as they are both willing to do for one another whatever is asked without hesitation.
Where would I begin with Mr. London? Such an interesting life would surely prevent any gaps in our conversation. His writing talents are so obviously natural that I don’t know if he could sure any tips, but I’d give it a try. Perhaps we could don snowshoes and trek into the wilds.
I’d be remiss if I were not to mention two things. First, this is not a children’s book, in fact, it is quite realistically brutal and at times, quite sad. Second, though not a big fan of biographies, what little I’ve read of Jack London, propels me to search for such a book.
My rating for The Call of the Wild is a 9 out of 10.
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