Comparison of “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London and “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin
The two books I will be comparing are: “The Call of the Wild” and “Black Like Me”. The author for “The Call of the Wild” is Jack London, and the author for “Black Like Me” is John Howard Griffin. They have very different point of views from each other. Jack’s book is a short adventure fiction novel that’s about the Klondike Gold Rush. An adventure fiction is an event or multiple events stringed together that happen outside the course of the protagonist’s normal life (usually accompanied by danger). John’s book is nonfiction that is about a social experiment for racism. A nonfiction novel is a piece of writing that’s based on facts, real events, and real people. Examples for nonfiction novels include biographies or history pieces.
“Black Like Me” is written and played out by John Howard Griffin. He sought to discover on his own how bad racism really was, because there was no way to know by being a white male. He changed the complexion of his skin by “a medication taken orally, followed by exposure to ultraviolet rays”. By the end of his transformation when he looked in the mirror, he saw the polar opposite of his old self. John said, “I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with whom I felt no kinship”. He felt no connection to who he was a week earlier. He went to the areas where racism was the highest to understand the worst of it all. Everywhere he went, he took notes for this book and for this article he promised the man who funded his start. When he converted back to his old look, he reflected on his experiences and wrote this book.
“The Call of the Wild” occurred during the Klondike Gold Rush in Yukon, Canada. It began in August of 1896 and then ended in 1899. In 1897 Jack London (author of the book) left college to search for gold. He didn’t make any type of fortune but what he did gain from this was experience. Even though the book is a fiction, he used his knowledge to write this book and enhance the visualization of the readers. The main character is Buck, a dog who is half St. Bernard and half sheepdog. The gold rush in Yukon created a need for dogs to pull the loot they mined which is where Buck came in. Buck begins to learn the tasks associated with being a sled dog and his ancestry helps him with the instincts and his genes so that his body is ready for what he must face. His owners didn’t know what they were doing and treated the dogs terrible. Halfway through their journey, they lost 9 dogs due to starvation and mistreatment. They kept going until they got to Thornton’s camp where they had an altercation and Buck got loose. Eventually Thornton becomes Buck’s owner and they grow a strong bond towards each other. They protected each other but Buck felt his calling was in the wild. Thornton died and Buck turned into a wild animal.
If London used a different perspective on this book, it wouldn’t change the outlook of the book much. The point of view it is in now is third person limited omniscient. That means that the story isn’t being told through one of the characters eyes, and that the audience knows more than the characters themselves. If you changed it to first person, the only differences you would see would be that you would be seeing everything through the narrator as he sees it. If Griffin were to change his perspective on his book, it would change drastically. It is currently in the first person point of view, which means that the story is told through the narrator who happens to be the author because it’s an autobiography. If you switched it to third person, it would no longer be an autobiography. It would have to be in the eyes of someone else, therefore some details would be left out.
Personally I prefer to view a piece of writing in the first person point of view. My reasoning behind that is because first person makes it sound like you’re being told a story directly from the narrator. From third person point of view is like a story from someone else’s experience. 1st person feels more personalized because you’re reading it like you’re saying it yourself. 3rd person feels like outside knowledge.
I believed the first point of view a lot more for a few reasons. A big reason was because it was an autobiography which made it about the experiences they lived out. In general terms, first person lets you know the narrators thoughts, feelings, and anything else going on with the character. Third person doesn’t give you the luxury of owning all of that knowledge. Like I said before, third person comes from another person’s eyes so that they might leave out details because they don’t know them.
London didn’t use any rhetoric in his book. It was an informational book and wasn’t used in any way to persuade. Griffin used rhetoric a lot in his book. Caucasian people didn’t understand what slavery was like which was why he wrote about his experience. He was trying to get his readers to understand his experience with racism by his social experiment.
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