I was keen to read The Call of the Wild by Jack London after recently reading White Fang while the first story was still fresh in my mind.
The Call of the Wild introduces Buck, a half shepherd, half St Bernard as the favoured companion of Judge Miller and his sons, and a playmate for the Judge’s grandchildren at their home in California.
When a gold rush created an enormous demand for dog sled teams to carry mail and essential supplies in the Yukon, Buck was stolen because of his great strength and taken to the other end of the continent by train.
Once in the Yukon, Buck learned to obey club-wielding men, and to fight for his food, working position and for his very life. Much like people, Buck’s fellow sled-dog’s characters were depicted as either living to work, or happy-go-lucky fun lovers, while others sought out every opportunity they could to fight.
The team’s masters came and went. Some were kinder to the dogs than others and several were cruel and incompetent. Eventually Buck ended up with a master he loved and would have died for, but eventually his master’s death and the call of the wild led him to run the countryside with wolves.
The story is short and is told in a similarly detached style to White Fang in that the animal’s morals and values are generally less emotional that that of humans, while their actions are more to the point. For example, if two dogs hated each other they fought to the death rather than politely detesting each other human-style.
The Call of the Wild can be enjoyed as a straightforward adventure story with moral lessons for those who care to recognise them, noting that the story is also a product of its time and contains racist comments and cruelty to animals.
White Fang and The Call of the Wild are companion pieces, set in the same place at the same time, but the characters do not cross over. The stories are opposite to each other in that White Fang tells the story of a wolfdog that becomes domesticated during the course of the story while the domesticated dog in The Call of the Wild goes wild. I didn’t prefer one story over the other.
The Call of the Wild was book twenty seven in my Classics Club challenge to read 50 classics before my challenge end date of August 26, 2023.