The Call of the WildThe Call of the Wild, by Jack London, is a classic piece of American literature. The novel follows the life of a dog named Buck as his world changes and in turn forces him to become an entirely new dog. Cruel circumstances require Buck to lose his carefree attitude and somewhat peaceful outlook on life. Love then enters his life and causes him to see life through new eyes. In the end, however, he must choose between the master he loves or the wildness he belongs in.
The novel starts on Judge Miller's property in Santa Clara Valley. Buck is the king of his domain and everyone knows it - from the lowly house dogs to the Judge's sons. However, a gardener with a gambling problem soon ends Buck's relaxed life. He sells Buck in order to obtain more money; Buck is sent west to be a sled dog and is cruelly mistreated along the way.
A quick learner, he adapts well to the sled dog life. His heritage also helped him become accustomed to the harsh Klondike climate. Some difficulties such as sore feet and a voracious appetite set him back at the beginning, but he speedily overcomes them. Buck goes through several masters and many thousands of miles. Along the way, he learns "The Law of Club and Fang": never challenge a human that has a weapon, and once a fighting dog falls to the ground, roaming huskies quickly destroy it.
One of Buck's biggest challenges is Spitz, the lead dog of his group. Spitz is a big bully, very clever and very arrogant. At the beginning, Buck is terrified of Spitz and strives to avoid him and do everything right. Soon, though, Buck longs to be the lead dog and goes out of his way to cause trouble for Spitz. This ultimately leads to a fight between the two, with Buck emerging as the new lead dog.
After a long, strenuous winter, a man, his wife and her brother buy the group of dogs. They are newcomers and have no idea how to properly run a sled. They get a late start, (almost spring), and run a very slovenly program. Buck encourages his team on, but the winter was just too hard on them. One by one they die, and Buck begins longing for death himself. When he could not move another step and was being beaten to death, John Thornton steps in and saves his life.
After all that he had been through, one would hardly suppose that Buck could love a person. However, love he can and love he does. He loves John almost more than is possible; once, as a joke, John commanded Buck to "Jump!" over a cliff. A second later, he was struggling with Buck at the very edge of the precipice. They could happily live together for the rest of their lives...if it weren't for "the call".
Once Buck becomes used to John and his way of living, he longs to be back in the wild where his ancestors roamed. He roams through the woods for hours on end, searching for where "the call" originates. On one of his many excursions, he stalks a moose for days and eventually kills it, exalting in his victory and strength. Another time, he runs into one of his "wolf brothers" and almost follows him to the pack. The only thing that stops him is the thought of John Thornton, who he runs home to right away.
In the end, Buck must make a choice: to stay with the master he loves, or to follow "the call of the wild", wherever it might lead him. Both offer happiness and contentment - but he can only choose one.