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The Call of the Wild is a novel by American writer Jack London. The plot concerns a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primordial instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous, frigid Yukon during the days of the 19th century Klondike Gold Rushes in which sled dogs were bought at generous prices.
Published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is one of London’s most-read
books, and it is generally considered one of his best. Because the
protagonist is a dog, it is sometimes classified as a juvenile novel,
suitable for children, but it is dark in tone and contains numerous
scenes of cruelty and violence. London followed the book in 1906 with
White Fang, a companion novel with many similar plot elements and
themes as Call of the Wild, although following a mirror image plot in
which a wild wolf becomes civilized by a mining expert from San Francisco named Weedon Scott.

Plot summary

Buck, the main character, is a 145lb Saint Bernard/Scotch Shepherd
cross, which gives him the appearance of an exceptionally large dog
that looks similar to a wolf. Buck leads a comfortable life as the pet
of Judge Miller in the ‘sun-kissed’ Santa Clara Valley of Northern
California. Judge Miller’s gardener’s assistant, Manuel, along with a
friend, abducts the dog and sells him to a trainer of sled dogs, which
were in great demand due to the discovery of “a yellow metal” in the
frozen lands of the Yukon, Alaska. Slowly introduced to the brutality
of his new life, Buck is forced to survive and adapt to conditions in
Alaska and the Yukon. He works pulling sleds with other dogs, learns
to steal food, and engages in power struggle with other dogs for the
lead position in the sled team. His owners soon learn that even though
his enemy, Spitz, fights like a devil, Buck is “two devils”. He
becomes the leader of the sled team after defeating Spitz in a
battle. He then is exchanged to a mail carrier. He changes hands to a
trio of incompetent owners, and is nearly starved and beaten to
death. Eventually acquired by a kind and loving owner, John
Thornton. When Thornton is killed by “Yeehat” native Americans, Buck
goes into a beastly rage and kills several members of the native
tribe. Buck returns to the wild and becomes the alpha male of a wolf
pack he met a few days before the death of Thornton. Of the world Buck
enters, London writes “the salient thing of this other world seemed
fear.” It is a world of dream that Buck enters, when he becomes
something of a legend, The Ghost Dog.


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