The Call of the Wild


Jack London

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Themes and Colors
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Call of the Wild, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Man-Dog relationship

In the harsh Klondike, man and sled dog develop intense bonds, coming to depend on each other in symbiotic ways in order to survive. For instance, sled dogs, like Buck provide transportation and labor to couriers like François and Perrault, who in turn care for their animals with food and protection. London portrays such bonds by demonstrating how Buck's owners shape his character and educate him in the ways of mastery.

At Judge Miller's insular…

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The Pursuit of Mastery

The dog eat dog world of the Klondike awakens within Buck a "dominant primordial beast” that drives him to "master, or be mastered.” Buck chooses "to master” by overthrowing Spitz and asserting his rightful place as lead dog on François and Perrault's team. Domination is Buck's aim and he achieves it. Mastery, however, is not just a relentless struggle for power and dominance. London describes Buck's pursuit "to master” as a learning process. Buck "masters,”…

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Wild Law and Order

When Jack London embarked to the Klondike in search of gold, he brought two seminal works with him, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species. The latter's influence is evidenced by the ways in which nature administers the law. When Buck attacks a man to defend John Thornton, the miners set up a mock court to settle this dispute on the frontier. That they set up their…

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Domestication to Devolution

While Buck is deeply influenced by his human masters, The Call of the Wild is ultimately about Buck's transformation from a domesticated dog to a wild wolf. London's Darwinian influences are at work in Buck's "development,” or rather his gradual "retrogression” into a primeval beast. Like an evolving organism, Buck sheds characteristics ill-suited to his environment and takes advantage of traits that help him thrive. He tunes in to his latent, feral instincts, becoming less…

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