The Call of the Wild is no boys’ tale. It’s rough, embodying as it does Jack London’s ideas about the survival of the fittest. It is also London’s classic tale about the relationship between dog and man.
Buck is a large, pampered dog, the pet of a rich judge in California. But the Alaska gold rush is on, and all large dogs on the west coast are at risk. A gardener’s assistant with debts kidnaps Buck and sells him.
Buck is beaten with a club and then taken up to Alaska to work as a sled dog. But Buck never becomes submissive. Through intelligence, cunning, and brute strength he survives in brutal conditions. Eventually, he begins to feel the urge of his wild heritage.
Although London has the dog have fairly ridiculous “racial memories” of tree-living humans, they are probably about on par with what was believed at the time about evolution. London’s short novel is typical of the school of naturalism, which endeavoured to show the worst of reality. This is not really my favorite of my Classics Club list books so far.