Call of the Wild
White Fang: “The call of the wild and White Fang” by Jack London Essay
Jack London has been touted as one of the best writers of his time with an instinctive artistic ability of high order and an extraordinary set of skills with words. It should be noted that this book complements the themes advanced in his earlier publication “The Call of the Wild”, by showing how a naturally domesticated animal may revert to freedom present in nature and the wilderness. In view of this, this paper focuses on the attributes of the characters and their adaptability to different circumstances.
Analysis of the Main Characters
White Fang is the main character of the story. This fact is emphasized by London’s decision to name the story after him. He was born of a mixed heritage, to a wolf paternity and a mother bearing a mixed heritage of wolf and dog. He shows unique attributes, which prompt his mother to care for him. He is naturally agile and strong, attributes which he transforms into fighting skills after other dogs become mean to him (The New York Times).
His conquests in the battle field underline his fierceness. He is an intelligent animal, a fact which helped him survive the challenges in the forest. Loosing all his siblings to the drought helps him sharpen his natural instincts. He is adventurous, a trait which enables him to learn the invaluable lesson of survival for the fittest. This helps him in the later stages of his life when he is handled by different masters.
His loyalty is portrayed when he opts to stick to his masters in spite of the misery he underwent on their account. This is as a consequence of fear instilled into him during his beatings and, he subsequently He toes the line in order to avoid retribution. This implies that his heart had not warmed to his master hence love was constituent in their relationship (London 172). Fang shows his obedient nature by staying within all boundaries established by his different masters (The New York Times).
White Fang’s resilience is portrayed by the attitude he adopts since his childhood. He is constantly teased by other puppies when they move into the human camp. After loosing several fights, he adapts to the situation and fights his battles with the resolve to win. Life in this camp also reveals his aggression.
He beats all his opponents before doing all it takes to beat his main tormentor, lip-lip. In the latter years of his life, he gains from this experience to fight when unleashed on other aggressive dogs. His last master, Weedon Scott reveals a sentimental aspect to his character. By showering him with affection continuously, White Fang becomes affectionate towards his boss. This fondness is genuine due to the love that is existent between them.
This transformation is shown by numerous instances in the book where he responds to the master’s word as opposed to sadism which he was accustomed. He develops affection for Scott, to the extent that he howls in pain and refuses to eat when the master leaves him behind. This attachment signifies loyalty that stems from love, in contrast to intimidation, as it was from his previous masters.
Weedon Scott bought White Fang when he faced imminent death while fighting. The difference in management styles between Beaver and Scott is evident. He is kind to the animal, and hence refrains from employing violent forms of retribution. Instead, he nurtures Fang into an obedient beast by showering him with endless affection.
He shows he is caring after he assumes liability of white fang by instructing his assistant to take care of the dog throughout the recuperation period. He exhibits perseverance every time the dog does not respond to his overtures. The dog gives him cold treatment time and again, barking viciously at him and declining to take meals, but he does not give up on him.
After much coaxing, he finally reached out to the animal using meat. He then decided to train the animal with the aim of domesticating it. After much work, the dog resonated with his voice, by developing the ability to decipher the different tones in his voice.
Scott is responsible since he agrees to travel with White Fang back to his home instead of leaving him behind with the servant. This also brings to light his compassionate attribute, because he only gives in after hearing the beast’s painful howls and seeing the magnitude of injuries he incurred as he tried to break free. It is noteworthy that Scott loves White Fang genuinely.
This is recorded as one of the main reasons why the beast finally warned up to him. This trait facilitates their forming of a strong bond which made the dog guard him and his property.
The she wolf Kiche is White Fang’s mother. She acts as the leader of the wolf pack despite the fact that she is a domestic dog. Her intelligence comes out clearly from the onset as she lures the sled driving dogs from Bill and Harry their masters into the woods (London165). She shows her dexterity and adaptability when she leads her cub into the Indian settlement, where “man is god” furthermore.
Kiche is also protective of her cubs and hunts in order to feed them. It is also on record that she fought a wolverine and a weasel in order to protect her only remaining cub. She is affectionate, an attribute which draws White Fang to her. It makes him look up to her as a teacher, guide and a source of protection. It is worth mentioning that Kiche’s attribute are seen when “the cub felt his mother soften at the sound.
When she is taken away by an Indian for a debt owed, White Fang unsuccessfully attempts to pursue her before he is captured by beaver. When the fully grown White Fang meets her later in the book, she refuses to acknowledge him. In spite of this, respect he had for her is evidenced by the fact that he accepted the present state of affairs and upheld his respect for her as a mother and teacher.
Gray Beaver, White Fang’s initial owner is cruel to the wolf and tames him through beatings. Surprisingly, he treats him with fairness; in the same manner he does other dogs. The wolf considers him a god due to the extra chunks of meat he often receives from the Indian. It should be noted that Beaver was not a cruel man, but was socialized to believe that cruelty is synonymous with survival. Beaver’s gullibility is exposed when he falls for a scheme by Beauty Smith which sees him lose ownership of the dog.
He is tricked into alcoholism and his subsequent addiction ensures he trades the dog for liquor. White Fang escapes Smith’s home on several occasions and runs back to Beaver. He in turn returned him back due to his honesty. Despite all his shortcomings, Beaver remains loyal to the wolf as a master, playing the most crucial of roles in developing his strength, independence and intelligence.
Beauty Smith was another of White Fang’s owners. It is satirical for the author to name a man with such an appalling character beauty. His cruelty is evidenced promptly as he whips White Fang on several occasions. He kept the dog chained frequently and exposed him to many forms of maltreatment; this made the dog realize that it was subject to the master’s prerogative (London 276).
Fang submitted to him out of fear, and ran away on more than a few instances, but was brought back by Beaver. His total disregard for the dog is shown when he opts to watch the dog die in a fighting arena, before selling him off to Scott despite all the injuries it had incurred. He is exploitative, since he channeled the dog’s rage for his personal gain.
He unleashed him on other dogs with the hope of making a profit from bets placed during the fight. Beauty Smith employs treachery and gets Gray Beaver to sell him the dog. He is violent, since he exposes the dog to violence before unleashing him on other beasts for profit (London 183). He propagates the principle of gaining respect through fear and violence, with Smith being the main beneficiary of his exploits.
It is noteworthy that Mr. London brings out his best pieces when writing about the relationships between human beings and beasts. He aptly presents feral nature to be entirely distinct from human nature and lifestyle. This is illustrated by “London is condemned for espousing contradictory ideas and causes, his judges are, unknowingly perhaps, charging him with no greater error than being the representative of the world in which he lived” (Ross 57).
This story reveals how the beasts submit to human authority readily, in addition, to the adaptability of domestic animals to a change in their environment. He brings to light the fact that while beasts may not reason like humans do; they learn from the discipline of experience and are propelled by instinct on what to shun and what to seek.
The cub does not envision life as a voracious appetite due to the difference in perception between himself and mankind. He leads a single purposed life, driven by survival and the need to see out one desire at a time. By dwelling on the savage nature of the experiences the beast goes through in a bid to emphasize their fitness. He intimates that beasts experience pain and pleasure out of life in similar quantities as illustrated when he cries (London 183).
In his earlier publication, ‘Call of the Wild’, London talks about a Buck, a dog born in the civilized world, who is sold to travelers in need of sledge pullers (Tabor-Hann). The tale recounts the challenges he goes through in the wild, that bring out his wild side. His killer instinct is polished due to the hardships he undergoes while changing masters at frequent intervals.
The same can be said of the lives people lead in the present times. While some adapt easily to difficulties, other persons experience difficulties in the course of transitions from their comfort zones. From the story, it is evident that remarkably few characters show the resilience and ability to adapt to new systems, and hence guarantee their survival. Those who refuse to discard their areas of comfort are rendered irrelevant due to their inability to cope with changing situations.
London, Jack. The call of the wild and White Fang. London: Collector’s library. 2004. Print.
London, Jack. White Fang. New York: Plain Label Books, 1968. Reprint.
Ross, Dale. “Jack London: An American Dilemma”. Journal of American Culture. 1982. 5: 57 62.
Tabor-Hann, Kellie. Investigating Jack London’s White Fang: Nature and Culture Detectives. Edsitement. 2010. Web.
The New York Times. Jack London the Socialist—A Character Study; When and Why the Author of “The Call of the Wild” Became a Convert and Propagandist—His Literary Methods and Aims. 1906. Web.
Jack London’s The Call of the Wild Essay
World literature consists of numerous examples when prominent writers turn to animal characters who are hardly distinguishable from human protagonists. The idea of such a trick is to convey a stronger message to the audience, as people relate to animals because they depict many human traits. Jack London is not an exception in this context, as he truly loved the idea of having dogs as main characters (Tichi, 2015). The purpose of the essay is to summarize the story of The Call of the Wild, describe its characters and themes, express the opinion regarding the background story behind key characters’ relationship, and get an understanding of the nature of living creatures.
The story takes place in the Yukon Territory, the area between north-western Canada and Alaska, during the Klondike gold rush. Jack London, in his callow years, was one of those who rolled the dice and went to the North to get rich fast. Jack was a highly independent person, and around the time of The Call of the Wild publication, he “was surging with self-confidence” (McAleer, 2016, p. 9). Not only people were involved in the Klondike enterprise but also dogs like the protagonist of the book. Buck is a mixed-breed dog; his father is St. Bernard, and his mother is a Scotch shepherd dog. He lives in a sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley with his master Judge Miller. However, his peaceful life ends when miners in the North discover a yellow metal called gold.
Buck is a muscular creature who is neither house nor kennel dog, and he trusts the people he knows. Although he has never experienced people’s cruelty, one day, the gardener Manuel, who is a gambler, kidnaps him and sells to dog dealers. One of them clothed in a red sweater becomes dog’s handler and grossly mistreats him, later on, this man re-sells Buck to a Canadian government official named Perrault. Buck reaches the Dyea beach, where he immediately learns club and fang law. Being forced to become a slave, he adjusts to a new life and steadily starts acting like a wolf. He takes the role of the leader of a dog team after he has killed his mortal foe Spitz and proves to be worthier than several other dogs (Zeng, 2018). When human management of the team changes, Buck soon finds a new master whose name is John Thornton. Buck gets attached to John, so he even can risk his life for the man’s sake. When the Yeehats kill Thornton, Buck gets mad and kills people of this tribe. The book ends with a legend of Buck being the leader of the wolf pack who keeps on daunting the Yeehats.
The description of the main characters of the book should start with the protagonist. The development of Buck is tremendous throughout the entire book, as he steadily turns into the opposite of himself. At the start, Buck enjoys his lush life in sunny Northern California, and in the end, he is presented as a fierce, vengeful, and greedy leader of the pack. It is almost unbelievable that Buck is a dog because London overly humanizes him. He has emotions, feelings, affections, so the fact that Buck is a dog can be overseen. He, as any living creature, is torn between various temptations making his life quite thorny and complicated.
On the one hand, he has always perceived himself as a civilized dog who is alien to brutality. On the other hand, he is deceived by the wild, which feels like home to him. Even though he happens to meet a master who is kind and fond of the dog, Buck doesn’t want to be just a man’s best friend anymore.
The central human character is John Thornton, who is the last master of Buck. London doesn’t give any details of Thornton’s life because his primary role is to reveal Buck’s character to an even greater extent. Thornton’s presence in Buck’s life is also a challenge: the dog loves the master so much that he even risks the life for Thornton’s sake, but he also wants to go into the wild. Another dog character is Spitz, who is Buck’s most despised enemy and rival. Spitz is the catalysator, which lets Buck understand what an amoral creature is, but he also pushes Buck to the dueling to decide who is worth the status of a leader. There are more characters in the book, but most of them play episodical roles in the biography of Buck.
The themes of the book represent a wide range of topics from the struggle for mastery to the binary relations between civilization and wilderness. Obtaining master status doesn’t seem to be the biggest goal of Buck when a reader first meets him. However, as everything in this book evolves fast, so does the mastery. Buck understands quite early that he has to become a master because this is the law of his ancestors (Zeng, 2018). He doesn’t want to be weak because he knows what happens to those who cannot fight their vulnerabilities. He struggles to become a super creature who is the master of his own. Another theme, binarity of wilderness and civilization, is also of significant interest in the book. It is very relevant at all times, as London once again demonstrates how thin the invisible line is between two concepts. Buck is undoubtedly not the only one who surrenders to the temptation of the instincts and acts like a wolf in the world of barbarity. He learns new things fast, but he also forgets the old ones even faster.
In my opinion, there is an obvious thread of personal history going through the entire book. In reality, the relationship between Thornton and Buck is based on the ties between London and his foster dad, John London. The character and foster parent of the author do not solely share the same name, but also the idea of adopting creatures who desperately needed to be taken under their wings. The relationship between Buck and John is intrinsic for the message of the book because Thornton manages to “awaken the sleeping love in Buck’s deep soul” (Yang, 2015, p. 44). My other thought is that the relationship between the two characters is based on London’s daydreaming. London was not able to compensate for the debt he owed to his foster dad, so he made the tribute possible in the book. In the story, Buck manages to save his master and even wins money for the enterprise of Thornton’s dream. The theme goes beyond the book, as it concerns the relationship between the foster parent and the adopted kid. From my point of view, the book shows different sides of this type of traumatized love experienced by both Buck and its creator Jack.
Having discussed the content, characters, and themes, one can state that this is a book about a confident character. On the one hand, there is a certain sense of respect for Buck, while, on the other hand, it is not clear whether he is better than the characters he despises in the beginning. The book sends a clear message that many factors should be taken into consideration when one tries to understand the nature of a living creature. It is not as black and white as it may seem since life is a continuous change.
McAleer, J. (2016). Call of the Atlantic: Jack London’s publishing odyssey overseas, 1902-1916. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Tichi, C. (2015). Jack London: A writer’s fight for a better America. Chapel Hil, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.
Yang, H. (2015). Psychoanalysis of Jack London’s The call of the wild and White fang, English Language Teaching, 8(11), 42-46.
Zeng, X. (2018). On the reflection of naturalism in the main character in The call of the wild. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 8(11), 1530-1534.
To promote cleanliness of our surroundings
The primary theme of the story is of survival and a return to primitivism. Pizer writes that the theme is allegorical and clear: “the strong, the shrewd, and the cunning shall prevail when … life is bestial”. Pizer also finds evident in the story a Christian theme of love and redemption, as shown by Buck’s refusal to revert to violence until after the death of Thornton, who won Buck’s love and loyalty.London, who went so far as to fight for custody of one of his own dogs, understood that loyalty between dogs (particularly working dogs) and their masters is built on trust and love.
By 1897, California native Jack London had traveled around the United States as a hobo, returned to California to finish high school (he dropped out at age 14), and spent a year in college at Berkeley. He then traveled to the Klondike by way of Alaska during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, later saying of the experience: “It was in the Klondike I found myself.
” Leaving California in July, he traveled to Dyea, where he went inland. To reach the gold fields, he and his party transported their gear over the Chilkoot Pass, often carrying on their backs loads of up to 100 pounds (45 kg).
They staked claims to eight gold mines along the Stewart River. London stayed in the Klondike for almost a year. He lived for a time in the frontier town of Dawson City, before moving to a nearby winter camp, where he spent the winter reading books he had brought: Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species; and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In the winter of 1898, Dawson City (today mostly deserted) was a city with about 30,000 miners, a saloon, an opera house, and a street of brothels. In the spring of 1898, as the annual gold stampeders began to stream into the area, London left.
He had contracted scurvy, common in the Arctic winters, where fresh produce was unavailable. When London’s gums began to swell he decided to return to California. With his companions, he rafted 2,000 miles (3,200 km) down the Yukon River, through portions of the wildest territory in the region, until they reached St. Michael, where he hired himself out on a boat and returned to San Francisco. In Alaska, London found material that inspired him to write the novella The Call of the Wild. Dyea Beach was the primary point of arrival for miners at the time London visited, but without a harbor access was treacherous, so Skagway became the new arrival point.
From there, to reach the Klondike prospectors had to navigate the White Pass, which became known as “Dead Horse Pass”, with horse carcasses littering the route; it was too steep and harsh for them to survive the ascent. Dogs began to replace horses to transport material over the pass, and at this time strong dogs with thick fur were “much desired, scarce and high in price”. London would have seen many dogs, especially prized Husky sled dogs, in Dawson City and in winter camps close to the main sled route. He became friends with Marshall Latham Bond, who owned a mixed St. Bernard-Scotch Collie dog; in a letter to his friend London later wrote: “Yes, Buck is based on your dog at Dawson.”
Beinecke Library at Yale University holds a photograph of Bond’s dog, taken during London’s stay in the Klondike in 1897. The depiction of the California ranch in the beginning of the story was based on the Bond family ranch.
Summary, Plot, Moral Values, Themes the Call of the Wild
Summary: Buck, the lead character, is a much loved and pampered dog living a comfortable life on a ranch under the loving care of his owner, a wealthy judge who makes his pet want for nothing. Then one day, Buck’s life takes a dramatic turn when he’s sold off by an unscrupulous servant to pay a debt. He travels in a cage for the first time and is sold in Alaska, where dog-sleds are the primary mode of transportation.
Buck has to quickly adapt to his new life as a sled dog and learn how to survive in a dog-eat-dog world where the competition is tough and often deadly. The basic comforts he had hitherto taken for granted, namely abundant food and warm shelter, are replaced by the bare necessities for survival which have to be fought for tooth and claw. Buck learns quickly, his physique and natural intelligence standing him in good stead, all the while improving as a sled dog and ultimately deposing the pack leader, his arch enemy: Spitz.
His life changes sharply yet again, as he is sold off to Hal and his wife, people who know nothing about sledding or caring for animals till at last he is rescued by a kind and loving man, his last master: John Thornton. At last Buck finds a master who loves him besides caring for or pampering him. However this happiness is not built to last, his master is murdered by the vicious Yee-Hats, a tribe of brutal savages. In the midst of his anguish, Buck has to find his true self, he has to listen to the Call of the Wild and to answer it to go leaping towards his destiny… Get this e-book now at a very low price. Summer Promotion at eBooks.com! Take $15 off on $100 or more purchase. Use code: SUMMEREBOOKScp. Valid until Sep 22, 2012
Social/Historical context: The book was published in 1903, the time of the gold rushes and adventures in vast, unexplored tracts of land. A time before the full use of machinery and sophisticated technology, when often, dog sleds and carts were the only means of communication in the wilderness. London’s masterpiece, as it is often hailed to be, explores the heart of those yet-primitive societies on the edges of civilization, through the minds of their beasts.
Writing Style: The book is written as a third-person narrative, continually following the central character and from the point of view of the central character. The language is extremely simple and lucid, and combined with a gripping plot, the book is easy to follow and hence suited for younger as well as seasoned readers. London has explored society from a dog’s perspective. However the deeper, darker messages of unbound greed, ambition and ultimately the necessity of adaptability to change are easy to spot. There is an innocence in the way the author has attempted to capture the scene from a dog’s point of view, this adds to the simple charm of the book.
My Thoughts: One of my early classics, I read this for the first time when I was 9 and I loved it because I loved animals as all children of that age do. Now, when I reminisce about it I relate, with an adult mind, to the other themes in the book. I cannot help but wonder at the complexity of the layers, so deep yet so simply structured. A timeless tale for all and sundry.
Analysis Of White Fang By Jack London English Literature
Jack London was an American author who wrote quite a few books. The main focus of this paper will be on White Fang one of his more popular books. Jack Londonââ‚¬â„¢s White Fang exhibits his naturalist way of thinking, when discussing how the environment and natural world around him is able to raise society and exhibit the deeper truths. Throughout the book there are many references to naturalism with the use of symbols and metaphors. He also uses survival of the fittest and romanticism as major themes.
Jack London wrote many books with Darwin’s popular ideas in mind, particularly White Fang and The Call of the Wild. The process of “natural selection” means that only the strongest, brightest, and most adaptable elements of a species will survive. This idea is embodied by the character, White Fang. From the onset, he is the strongest wolf-cub, the only one of the litter to survive the famine. His strength and intelligence make him the most feared dog in the Indian camp.
While defending Judge Scott, White Fang takes three bullets but is miraculously able to survive. One element of the book one might overlook is White Fang’s ability to adapt to any new circumstances and somehow survive. He learns how to fight the other dogs, he learns to obey new masters, he learns to fight under the evil guidance of Beauty and, finally, he learns to love and be tamed by Weedon Scott.
White Fang was written during the courtship and marriage of London to Charmian Kittredge and a romantic theme is part of the novel. Part V reflects how love can tame natural behavior and instincts. As White Fang learns to love Weedon Scott, this love produces a desire in the dog to do anything to please his “love master.” This includes having Weedon’s children climb and play with him, and learning to leave chickens alone, although the taste was extremely pleasing to him. Just as White Fang was tamed by love, Jack London was tamed by love as he began staying away from the whorehouses in San Francisco and trying to overcome a severe drug habit.
The Wild is a dominant symbol for the perilous nature of life. The Wild symbolizes life as a struggle: for example, the Wild is a place in which the sun makes a “futile effort” to appear (I.2). White Fang himself is a symbol of the Wild (IV.1). The Wild is, for White Fang as a pup, the “unknown” (II.3)-and he, in turn, becomes the embodiment of the “unknown” for others (V.3). And yet the Wild is not a wholly negative metaphor in this story, for the Wild gives White Fang much of his strength. For example, in the final chapter, as he is struggling for life, White Fang is able to survive when other animals may not have, for White Fang, we are reminded, “had come straight from the Wild, where the weak perish early and shelter is vouchsafed to none. A constitution of iron and the vitality of the Wild were White Fang’s inheritance” (V.5). The Wild is thus a multivalent metaphor in White Fang, but tending to express the power of life to survive and even thrive. Like the Wild, the life force cannot be completely tamed.
Light is a common symbol for life in the world’s literature, because light is, of course, a physical necessity for life. Light’s symbolic function in White Fang proves no exception. In II.3, for instance, we read that as the young pups starve, “the life that was in them flickered and died down,” and that White Fang’s sister’s “flame flickered lower and lower and at last went out.” In that same chapter, however, the “wall of light”-the entrance to the wolves’ lair-is a symbol for living in the larger world. Life is as precarious as a flickering flame, yes, but it is also persistent: “The light drew [the cubs] as if they were plants; the chemistry of the life that composed them demanded the light as a necessity of being.” Similarly, the light and warmth of Gray Beaver’s fire attracts White Fang (III.1). Readers will note other examples of light serving a symbolic function, because light is equated with life, and the persistence of a life is a dominant theme of the book.
Clay is a metaphor employed several times in the book to describe the “raw material” of a person or animal’s makeup. It is the metaphor London chooses to use to address the perpetual debate about the relative importance of “nature” and “nurture” in determining identity. London offers three clear examples of characters whose clay has been harshly molded through harsh experiences (which can only be called “nurture” for the terms of the argument): Beauty Smith, Jim Hall, and White Fang. Interestingly, Smith and Hall seem beyond “redemption”: Smith runs away into the night after White Fang attacks him (IV.6), and Hall is killed by White Fang (V.5). Only White Fang is “redeemed,” and that occurs through a nurture that is worthy of the name: Weedon Scott’s love of the animal. The key passage, perhaps, occurs in IV.6, when we are told explicitly about the two very different “thumbs of circumstance” that have worked their way on the clay of White Fang’s character-first, an oppressive thumb that turned him into a vicious and savage fighter; last, the loving thumb of Weedon Scott that helped him transform into “Blessed Wolf” (V.5).
One central theme with which London seems preoccupied in White Fang is the theme of the nature of life. The theme was much on the minds of 19th-century readers and thinkers. In 1859, Charles Darwin advanced ideas that came to be popularly understood as “survival of the fittest”-that life was a struggle, and that only the powerful and strong survived (and, in some applications known as “social Darwinism,” perhaps only they deserved to do so). About a half-century later, London publishes this novel, which may be read as a “taking to task” of such “social Darwinism.” London’s story seems to posit that life is more than a “bleak and materialistic” (III.5) struggle where only power matters. The “redemption” that White Fang undergoes at Weedon Scott’s instigation suggests that the greatest power in life is the power of love.
This theme connects quite naturally, then, with another key theme. If London’s novel explores the meaning of life, it also quite clearly explores the meaning of civilization. One way in which it does so is through the character of Beauty Smith. Beauty Smith stands as an argument against the misrepresentations of Darwinism noted above-i.e., the justification of the weak and powerless’ exploitation at the hands of the strong and powerful; and an attempt to free individuals from the responsibility to exercise their own volition by an appeal to a pre-determined destiny. We are told that Smith is the product of harsh experiences. Like White Fang, his clay has been roughly molded. Even so, Smith has had and presumably still has choice about how to respond to his environment-a choice, for instance, whether or not to “vindicate” his existence by tormenting men and beasts less powerful than he. White Fang, in order to survive, does not. This marks the sharpest contrast between the two characters. It also heightens the novel’s overarching reflections on the struggle of life, however, for even as Smith is wrongly exercising his power, White Fang is rightly exercising his to continue to live: “He had too great vitality. His clutch on life was too strong” to continue to resist Smith. Ironically, he demonstrates power through submission. Thus, if Smith truly were a civilized man, he would know to treat White Fang better.
London has raised this question earlier in his novel, of course. In II.5, for example, he introduces “The Law of Meat.” By laying bare the often brutal dynamics of life in the Wild, London is holding a mirror up to us, giving us the opportunity to see those dynamics at work in us, for good or for ill. Do we recognize “the law of meat”-“EAT OR BE EATEN”-when we see it, and do we adhere to it ourselves, or strive to adhere to a higher law, a law that requires us to curb our instincts for a greater good?
Representation of Darwin's Theory in White Fang
Jack London is known for using naturalism and brutality as themes in his novels; however, it is also common for him to use philosophical ideas to advance his plots. One example that effectively shows this is London’s White Fang, which is significantly informed by Charles Darwin’s theories of survival and competition. More specifically, this work centers on the study of Social Darwinism, which is a belief that “the process of natural selection acting on variations in the population would result in the survival of the best competitors and in continuing improvement in the population” (“Social Darwinism” 1).
This theory is articulated within the changes in White Fang’s behavior in different environments. White Fang shows how one’s behavior adapts through external influences and demonstrates the underlying presence of Social Darwinism.
The human characters have a significant impact on White Fang, prompting major changes in his behavior. One of these alterations occurs when he is forced into an unfamiliar and harsh environment.
He must learn to survive with his new master, Beauty Smith, who is a described as “a sadistic master who beats White Fang and starves him to make him fight harder” (Reesman 3). The neglect and abuse from Smith has an important impact on White Fang, since now he must learn new tactics for survival. Through this struggle, he learns to behave like a vicious beast in order to survive and protect himself from being killed. Eventually, this leads him to fight and often kill any dog that crosses his path. Virginia Crane explains how White Fang gets the name “The Fighting Wolf” by being “abused and exploited so harshly that he develops into a ferocious killer” (Crane 3). With Smith in control, White Fang learns and replicates Smith’s immoral and malicious traits. Smith treats him with such cruelty that he must adapt to the harsh environment in order to not be killed. London states that because White Fang is beaten and chained up for a long period of time, “[White Fang] now became the enemy of all things, and more ferocious than ever. To such an extent was he tormented, that he hated blindly and without the faintest spark of reason” (London 220). White Fang begins to manifest the hate that he receives from Smith, which is another reason he begins to behave as “The Fighting Wolf”. He now believes that violence is the only way to live, since he has never before been treated with love.
Another major change in White Fang occurs when Weedon Scott rescues him during a dangerous dog fight. From that moment on, White Fang’s life is completely different. Opposing the qualities of Beauty Smith, “Scott represents a greater good because he chooses to make White Fang his responsibility, and he chooses knowing that he is taking on a killer” (Norvell 2). Being treated with the care and love that Scott provides is new to White Fang, so he must relearn how to behave and survive for life in this environment. Although this is a challenge for both of them, Scott doesn’t give up while training White Fang and helping him to earn a new reputation. White Fang’s change in behavior is tested and proven when he resists his natural instinct to kill other dogs when they begin to pick on him. Norvell explains that “White Fang has learned not to attack dogs, and so he soaks up their abuse for Scott’s sake” (Norvell 2). Previously, White Fang only knew how to survive through fighting and killing to rule out competition. Scott treats White Fang with love and patience, so White Fang adapts to this behavior and changes his way of life. Instead of resorting to violence, White Fang ignores the other dogs and behaves calmly, showing how Scott is an overall good influence on White Fang. Virginia Crane agrees, stating that “allegiance and affection for a man springs from this good treatment, and White Fang becomes ‘The Blessed Wolf’” (Crane 3). Because of Weedon Scott’s good nature, White Fang finally learns to love and care. This marks the end of his days as The Fighting Wolf, and the beginning of his new reputation as The Blessed Wolf.
White Fang’s behavior changes to ensure survival in each environment, suggesting the idea of Social Darwinism. London includes this particular philosophical idea because of White Fang’s two opposing behaviors and how his ability to easily adapt and survive proves that he is one of the stronger dogs in the idea of survival of the fittest. The use of Smith and Scott “enables Jack London to again examine behavioral adaptation via principles of Darwinian evolution. He shows how chance, nature, and external influences function as forces that shape all animals’ evolution” (Vermaas “White Fang” 1). Vermaas suggests that London’s use of White Fang’s adaptations and behaviors further demonstrates the idea of Social Darwinism. The external influences are Smith and Scott, who both play important roles in White Fang’s behavior. During these times in White Fang’s life, “they were his environment, these men, and they were molding the clay of him into a more ferocious thing than had been intended by Nature. Nevertheless, Nature had given him plasticity. Where many another animal would have died or had its spirit broken, he adjusted himself and lived, and at no expense of the spirit” (London 222). London describes how White Fang is strong and portrays Social Darwinism due to how he easily adapts to environments that would cause weaker animals to die off.
During White Fang’s time with Smith, White Fang is shaped into a brutal wolf due to the poor treatment he receives. White Fang quickly adjusts and lives this new life of violence, which would typically be a struggle for other dogs. Crane argues this point by reminding us how “repeatedly, [White Fang] is brought to the edge of extinction, only to recover by adapting to the laws that govern his own nature and the laws that structure his new environments” (Crane 4). Each environment has a different set of laws. London again articulates this idea through the laws of the Wild, and how “White Fang knew the law well: to oppress the weak and obey the strong” (London 187). By learning these new laws, he is able to modify his actions accordingly. Matthew Bruccoli believes that the “domestication of the wolf is complete when White Fang sires a litter of pups, thus proving that adaptability is the key to survival” (Bruccoli 1). The internal conflict and major change within White Fang is complete at the end of the novel when White Fang becomes accustomed to the domesticated lifestyle. He begins to act more like a house dog, rather than a wolf in the wild fighting to survive. White Fang shows how the theory of Social Darwinism will have an effect on one’s behavior, since it will cause one to adapt to changes in environment while fighting for survival.
Through the influences of Scott and Smith and the ideas of Social Darwinism, White Fang provides evidence for one’s behavioral adaptations. This idea is demonstrated within White Fang’s adjustments to survive within the different environments. The ideas of Social Darwinism further explain White Fang’s major transformation in behavior through the different needs of survival. One will adapt to different influences and environmental surroundings over time in order to live and prosper.
Bruccoli, Matthew. “White Fang.” Student’s Encyclopedia of American Literary Characters (2009): n. pag. Bloom’s Literature. Web. 3 Dec 2015.
Crane, Virginia. “White Fang.” Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series, Supplement (1997): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web. 10 Nov 2015.
London, Jack. White Fang. New York: Macmillan Company, 2003. Print
Norvell, Candyce. “Critical Essay on White Fang.” Novels for Students 19 (2004): n. pag. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10 Nov 2015.
Reesman, Jeanne Campbell. “White Fang.” Critical Companion to Jack London: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion (2011): n. pag. Bloom’s Literature. Web. 3 Dec 2015.
“Social Darwinism.” Encyclopedia Britannica (18 March 2016): n. pag. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 22 March 2016.
Vermaas, Lori. “White Fang.” Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature (2011): n. pag. Bloom’s Literature. Web. 12 Nov 2015
A Person's Treatment of Animals in The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Have you ever noticed a similarity in someone’s behavior that is consistent with everything they do? In the novel The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, a dog named Buck is put through a series of multiple owners that treat him and his fellow sled dogs differently depending on their character. There are many themes that are conveyed throughout the novel, however the major theme about humans’ treatment of animals conveyed in The Call of the Wild is that A person’s treatment of animals can somewhat portray their behavior and mannerisms toward other people.
This is most noticeable through the behaviors of Buck’s owners Hal, Charles, Mercedes, and John Thornton.
Hal, Charles, and Mercedes, a group of Bucks owners, support the theme. At the beginning of chapter five, the trio is prepping their sled to head to Dawson, when some bystanders attempt to give them advice on lightening the load to make the labor of pulling the sled easier.
The three retaliate and claim that they know what they are doing and don’t need assistance. Hal then orders the dogs to go, but when they aren’t able to pull the sled, Hal becomes agitated. “The lazy brutes, I’ll show them’ [Hal] cried preparing to lash at them with the whip” (London 94). He then proceeds to repeatedly whip the dogs until one of the bystanders stops him and tells Hal it would benefit both the trio and their dogs if they broke the runners out of the ice. This time Mercedes it the one to speak. “Never mind that man,” she said pointedly, “You’re driving our dogs and you do what you think is best for them” (London 95). After another failed attempt to move the sled, Hal listens to the bystanders and they head off. From this event, it is clear that Hal, Charles, and Mercedes are stubborn and ignorant to the wild and its dangers. They also have a disregard for others opinions and needs. This is both shown in the way they neglect the dogs’ need for rest and ignore the bystanders’ advice.
Later in the sled team’s journey, they come across John Thornton’s camp, which they stop at for a small break. At this point, the entire sled team is exhausted from not receiving proper amounts of rest or food during their long journey. Hal tells Thornton that they plan to cross a lake that is frozen over. John Thornton warns them that the ice isn’t strong enough to hold the sled, the team, and the three of them at the same time. Hal ignores the advice and demands the dogs to rise. All of them are able to, except for Buck, who doesn’t move at all. This enrages Hal, causing him to continue to whip. When Buck once again resists his demand, Hal exchanges his whip for a club and continues to beat Buck with it until, “John Thornton sprang upon the man who wielded the club. Hal was hurled backward, as though struck by a falling tree” (London 113). The two fight and exchange threats. Thornton cuts Buck’s harness off of him. Hal is too enraged to care and, despite Thornton’s warnings, steers the sled onto the lake’s ice, which moments later breaks, plunging the entire team and the trio into frozen water. The entire team drowns except for Buck, who is now in the possession of his new owner John Thornton. This instance once again displays Hal, Charles and Mercedes’s ignorance, while also introducing John Thornton’s character. He heavily contrasts the trio in the way that he treats his dogs as well as other people. When with his dogs and others, “He never forgot a kindly greeting or a cheery word, and to sit down for a long talk was as much his delight as theirs” (London 119). Thornton also serves as a mediator in some situations. For example, “Black Burton, a man evil-tempered and malicious, had been picking a quarrel with a tenderfoot at the bar, when Thornton stepped good-naturedly between” (London 126). Overall, John Thornton is a good person and the most ideal master compared to Buck’s previous owners. He is friendly, caring, and treats his dogs with the same high respect as people.
Though not completely apparent, there are many other examples throughout The Call of the Wild in which a person’s treatment of animals. Francois and Perrault, for example, are respectful and have a friendly work-based relationship with the dogs and one another. The man in the red sweater is cruel with Buck and does not show mercy until Buck surrenders to him. Though not receiving much character development, it is assumable that he would not be as accommodating or friendly as John Thornton based on his treatment with Buck. In conclusion, a person’s treatment of animals can depict their treatment of other people.
Call Of The Wild Analysis
Part one: The beginning of the story takes place in Santa Clara Valley, California during the gold rush of 1896. Buck lives with his owner, Judge Miller, in an expensive house in the suburbs. Buck is loved by Miller and his kids and grandkids. He feels important, loved, and superior to all the other pets in the neighborhood.
But one day Buck is beaten, captured, and left in a crate on a train that sends him to Canada. Buck did not know why he was being taken away but he was furious. He was on the cold train with the kidnapper for two days with no food or water until they arrive in Seattle. Buck was angry and attacked a man. He was beaten and then finally given water. He stayed there until he was bought by a Canadian man named Perrault and put on a ship that delivered him to a man named Francois.
Part two: At the beginning of the story Buck is a dog that lives in the city and is fed by his owner. He loves the people he is with and the people love him. Buck is perfectly content with his situation until he is captured. Buck is beaten, starved, and has lost all the love and attention that he had previously had, but he starts to learn how to take care of himself. He isn’t really sad at first, he’s angry but he soon learns that if he follows the directions of those above him things will go well.
Buck seems to enjoy life more once he becomes the new leader of the group. He is proud of the faster time that he achieves. He starts thinking about his home more and more but still doesn’t feel homesick.
Towards the end of the story Buck really starts to become more acclimated to living without an owner. He starts to go into the woods and kill for food or for sport. The book says he even killed a bear and a moose. Even though Buck has this wild side he still comes back to the camp because he loves John. when John dies Buck spends all his time in the woods and joins a new pack. Buck has come full circle and is a wolf at heart but he still comes back to the place where John died to mourn and think about his other life.
Part three: The story begins with a young Saint Bernard and Scotch sheep dog mix, named Buck, living happily with his owner, Judge Miller. Buck is living a good life in an expensive house in Santa Clara, California. He is happy and loved where he is. But one day while Judge Miller is away a gardener, named Manuel, kidnaps him and sells him to work in the gold rush. He is beaten, put in a crate on a train and is forced to ride in the train for two days with no food or water. When he finally gets let out of the crate, he is furious. He looks for anyone to attack and pounces at a man. The man hits him with a club but Buck keeps fighting until he is too hurt to fight any longer. Once Buck stops fighting the man gives him food and water. This is where Buck realizes that even though he doesn’t want to be there and is angry at the man, you can’t bite the hand that feeds. He is sold again to a man named Perrault and his newfoundland named Curly and is taken onto a ship called the Narwhal which deliverers him to another man named Francois.
When Buck and Curly arrive at their destination they have developed a friendship from the boat ride. Curly approaches some huskies they attack her ripping her face open and trampling her. Men try to fight of the huskies but they were too late, Curly was already dead. This opens Buck’s eyes to how careful you have to be and how different this place is from his home. Buck spots another dog named Spitz laughing at the death of his friend. He is angry but he knows better than to fight right after watching his friend die by the hand of other dogs. Later Buck is harnessed to a sled and learns what the commands mean and what to do. He also learns that Spitz is the lead sled dog. Later that day Perrault brings two more dogs to the camp. They are huskies and brothers named Billee and Joe. Billee is nice and kind while Joe is mean and has a short temper. Spitz approaches the newcomers and Billee is ignoring him and taking the beating but Joe intervenes and Spitz leaves them alone. Another dog joins them that night, an old husky with one eye named Sol-leks. Buck confronts him with caution and Sol-leks slashes at him slicing his shoulder open. Sol-leks is immediately sorry because it was involuntary because Buck had approached him from his blind side. Buck realizes what he had done and and they become friends. That night Buck can’t sleep because he is cold. He tries to go into the tent that the men have but he is kicked out. He feels something under is feet and realizes its a dog. He then digs a hole in the snow, covers it up, and is warmed from the heat of his breath trapped in the snow.
One night when Buck went to go get his dinner he finds spitz there so he attacks him the two fight for a while before a hundred huskies on the verge of dying from starvation interrupted the fight. The camp retreated and Francois thinks that the bites from the huskies could’ve infected the dogs. One Morning a dog named Dolly goes mad and attacks Buck and Francois is forced to kill her. They arrive a town and the tension between Buck and Spitz is increasing after he sided with another dog when Spitz was trying to lead them. Buck finally gets pushed over the edge when Spitz steals a rabbit that Buck was chasing and the inevitable fight to the death begins. Spitz seems to have the upperhand in the fight. He is almost untouched while Buck is tired and dripping with blood. But Buck ultimately wins when he broke Spitz’s leg and the other dogs watch while he finishes him off, Driving home the point that he should be the new leader.
In the morning when Francois notices that Spitz is gone he decides to make Sol-eks the new leader. When Buck sees this he attacks Sol-leks but he happily backs down without a fight and Buck is crowned the new leader of the pack. He pushes the team to a faster record than Spitz had. They make it to their destination and Perrault a Francois are given orders to work elsewhere so Buck and the other dogs go back to their camp with a Scotsman. When they get back to the camp they realize that a dog named Dave is very weak but he won’t rest. He would rather die pulling the sled but he collapses and they leave without him. When they return Dave is gone but the Scotsman follows Dave’s tracks and the other dogs hear the sound of a gunshot and they all knew it was for Dave.
The Scotsman replaces Buck and his team for younger dogs and sells them to two men named Charles and Hal. They are inexperienced and make stupid decisions. The first day they fill the sled too full and it won’t move. Mercedes, Charles’ wife refuses to leave anything behind. Someone eventually tells them to break the ice around the runners of the sled and it finally starts to move, but this does not last very long because when they start to go uphill everything falls off. Buck is so frustrated that he keeps running. The bad decisions don’t stop there though they started feeding the dogs too much which left them short on food. The dogs manage to survive the lack of food until they get to a town called Five Fingers along the way bet the dogs are starting to get too weak to run and Billee dies of starvation. They barely make it to John Thornton’s camp and he tells Hal that he can’t go on the ice because it’s starting to melt and they could fall through. Hal ignores him and tries to go anyway but Buck refuses to move because he knows the dangers of going on melting ice. Hal keeps whipping him but Buck wont move. John sees this and tells him he’ll kill him if he whips him again. Hal pulls out a knife but John knocks it out of his hands and cuts Buck loose. Hal and Charles leave without Buck and John watches as Hal, Charles, Mercedes, and all the other dogs break through the ice and are pulled into the cold water.
John slowly nurses Buck back to health and a bond starts to form between the two. Buck will obey any command because he trusts John and is thankful for John saving his life. John even tells Buck to jump off a cliff to test him. Buck starts running but John stops him before he can jump. He is also very protective of John because John protected him. John tried to stop a bar fight once and someone treated him, but Buck latched onto his throat and killed him. His action was considered justified and he was praised for his loyalty. One day John claimed that Buck could a one-thousand pound sled by himself. Many people placed bets and one man bet one-thousand dollars that he couldn’t pull it. John was skeptical too but took the bet anyway and Buck pulled the sled one-hundred yards by himself.
John and Buck go to a place that is supposed to have a lot of gold and he earns thousands of dollars a day. One night while John is sleeping Buck goes out into the woods and sees a small wolf that he makes friends with he wants to follow him but he remembers John and goes back. Buck starts to stay in the woods more and more often but always comes back because of John. One day when he was coming back from the woods he finds John dead and shot with many arrows from some nearby Yeehat indians. Buck is filled with anger and starts killing them until they flee. Buck then decides to live in the wilderness since he is no longer tied down by John. He hears a wolf call and identifies it as the wolf he had become friends with so he joined their pack. As the years pass the Yeehat indians notice that the wolves start to look different. The indians talk about a ghost dog that runs at the front of the pack, leading the others. They also talk about the valley where John Thornton died and how Buck comes there to mourn the loss of his friend.
Part four: This story compares the differences between the life of a tamed dog with an easy life and the life of a wild dog with trials and hardships. Even though Buck was always a domesticated dog he still made the transition into the wild.
This story shows us that all Buck needed to transition back into the way of his ancestors was to be fully immersed into their lifestyle. We also know that Buck was happy where he was even though he was fending for himself and his life was hard. He was missing his family and the people he loved but this lifestyle was in his blood.
London also shows the differences and similarities between the behavior of the people and the animals. For example, Hal was mean and almost beat Buck to death and John was kind and loved Buck. Also it took Buck’s anger to overcome Spitz’s anger and become the new leader. It helps us see the good and bad in people, animals, and the rest of the world.
Animals and Call Of The Wild
Some say animals are the companions of humans while others argue they are to be used by humans for food or other purposes.In current society we see ongoing debate about the topic of animals and humans place in society. At this point in time we have people who use animals for purposes of food and hunters LIke myself follow this believing in taking the animal for food that God provided. On the other hand we have groups such as PETA people for the ethical treatment of animals going against hunters and anyone else using animals in any form that may be considered negative..
So in the story The call of the wild we see different approaches to The main character Buck in the story. To begin with in the story Buck a dog and the main character in The call of the wild started off living with Judge Miller where Buck was taken care of. Judge Miller and his family treated Buck as if he was a family dog and they gave him food and all of his accensial needs. He was given everything a dog would need. So we see the treatment of Judge Miller and his family and the love they had for him. We see they treated Buck as a companion to them.
Next we see Bucks Treatment after going to Howl Mercedes and Charles. He was abused beaten and starved. They treated Buck and the other dogs as if they were just to be used for profit. Howl Charles and Mercedes Then beat the dogs if they were too weak to work. There was no compassion under them and they had no respect for the dogs. Eventually after all this buck finally found compassion. A man named john thornton found him and treated him with respect. I guess you could call him by the term fair in his ways. Buck was finally treated with care again.n We see the different stages of what Buck went through. He begin in the care of Judge where he was treated good and he was cared for. Then when the new owners got him he was abused mistreated and whipped. He (Buck) went through a big transition from the abuse to then entering into the loving hands of John. These are all the different treatments (Buck) went through.
This shows us the difference of actions done between humans with there reactions towards animals. This reveals what one interpretation of the theme of The call of the wild could be. We see the many different treatments of animals come from humans. Some humans are loving to animals while others mistreat animals. Then there are some who have respect for animals but use them for purposes of hunting.
The main protagonist of The Call of the Wild
Buck is a St.Bernard mix who lived on an estate in Santa Clara, California, owned by Judge Miller. But one day one of the gardeners named Manuel takes Buck and sells him to a dog trader. Were the trader put Buck in a crate for four days on a train to Seattle.
When he gets unloaded he tries to attack a guy in a red sweater and gets beat with a club. He sees dogs getting the same treatment as he did when he got there. Until two Canadians named Francois and Perrault buys Buck and four other dogs named Curly, Dave, and Spitz for a sled dog team. The two men get on the boat The Narwhal to Dyea, Alaska ( a town near Skagway), where Buck sees snow for the first time. After the dogs get off the boat Curly gets attacked by a husky, then she is trampled but the rest of the pack of sled dogs. Wich teaches Buck about the law of ‘’club and fang’’.
Also to never let his guard down. Buck learns how to pull a sled and to become a working dog. Also, he learns experience by the “wild instincts” in him. Buck learns how to become a leader and competes with the head dog Spitz. One night, Buck and the rest of the team hunt a rabbit. After Spitz and Buck battle out for leadership of the group of dogs. Buck turns to win it and kill Spitz in the process. Demands for more mail made François and Perrault give the team to a Scottish courier who also moves mail. The dogs get worn down with heavy mail loads. A day on the route, the dog Dave can’t go anymore and makes them shoot him out of mercy. Then the team is given to Americans Hal, Charles, and Mercedes. They also make the dogs carry heavy loads and mistreat them by beating and starving them.
When the dog pack arrives at White River, the ice starts to melt. A local, John Thornton warns Hal against crossing, but Hal continues moving forward. Buck senses danger and doesn’t get up, because of this Hal beats Buck with a club. Thornton tackles Hal and cuts Buck out of the harness. Hal leaves buck and Thornton and continues down the river where the sled and dogs go through the ice. Thornton takes care of buck and gets him back healthy. Buck developed a liking and trust to Thornton. You can see this by Buck defending Thornton in a bar fight, saving him from drowning and winning a bet by pulling a sled loaded with a 1,000 pounds. Thornton takes Buck in search of a lost mine.
While Thornton pans for gold, Buck sees visions of a caveman and the wild’s beckoning call and explores the forest. Buck find a timber wolf and hunts for his own food. When Buck returns to the campsite he sees that the Yeehats killed Thornton and dance over the ruins of the camp. Buck then kills the chief and overturns the law of “club and fang”. Buck goes to the wolf pack and runs with them. He eventually became the leader and is highly respected.