Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Buck is a majestic St. Bernard/ Shepard mix that lives the good life with a judge in Santa Clara Valley in California until the day he is kidnapped.  Long haired dogs are in demand in the Yukon where men are traveling in the search for gold.  Buck soon has to learn the “law of club and fang” where he lives a life of abuse and also has to defend himself as top dog to survive.

The Call of the Wild is one of those books that I thought maybe I read back in Middle School, but it turns out, I have never read it.  It was probably a good thing that I didn’t read it in Middle School as I was continually amazed as I read it that it is marketed toward kids when it is very dark, violent, and full of adult themes.  Yes, a middle school kid could read it as the vocabulary is simplistic, but they might be really sad by the end!

I like how this book took Buck from a life to leisure to the point where he becomes one with the wild.  It was hard to read of the abuse of the animals in the book.  As Jack London wrote it after he was in Alaska, I have to believe that sled dogs were ill-treated.  I did like that Buck was able to find a human master that he adored and he finally treated him right.  I find it curious that the famous Call of the Wild movie starring Clark Gable was focused on this character, John Thornton.  John Thornton is only a small amount of this novel, it is told from Buck’s point of view and is Buck’s story.

I picked up the Call of the Wild as it was an April book for the Facebook Literary Classics Book Club Group.  Then afterwards, I noticed it was also on the released PBS Great American Read list. I also read it for the Classics Club. I’ve marked it off of three lists now!

Favorite Quotes:

“They are savages, all of them; who knew no law but the law of club and fang.”

“But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse.”

“Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out the depths of Time, he obeyed.”

“But he was not alone.  When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack, through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic among his fellows, his great throat a bellow as he sings the song of a younger world, which is the song of a pack.”

Overall, The Call of the Wild was a fascinating look at a tamed dog gradually changing from a pet into a wild creature.  

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library


  1. I love when one book fills so many lists. :)

  2. Very nice review, Laura. I did read this many years ago, in school (not sure which grade), along with other dark-themed books of survival, such as Lord of the Flies.

    I'm glad that reading this book helped you to shorten three lists. :)

  3. Once you read this book, written through the eyes of the hero, Buck, you have to wonder what "man's best friend" really thinks about humans. Great read!