[The link below will take you to the complete text of the novel courtesy of Project Gutenberg.]
With the aurora borealis flaming coldly overhead, or the stars leaping in the frost dance, and the land numb and frozen under its pall of snow, this song of the huskies might have been the defiance of life, only it was pitched in minor key, with long-drawn wailings and half-sobs, and was more the pleading of life, the articulate travail of existence.
Jack London’s The Call of the Wild immerses readers in the experience of another place, time, and species. The story’s main character is Buck, a St. Bernard-Scotch shepherd dog mix, who is stolen from his comfortable California home and shipped off to the Yukon during the time of the Klondike Gold Rush (1896-99). In the Yukon, elements are harsh, humans brutish, and the dogs often merciless. Every day Buck must fight to survive.
London wrote with a naturalistic, almost journalistic style that makes his stories seem almost modern. Like other writers of his day, he was interested in the way environment shapes lives. Buck is snatched out of a pampered, idyllic life in which he feels he is king of the farm animals and thrust into the life of a sled dog where he must defend his place in a cruel pecking order. The experience changes Buck from a good-natured beast to one that is wary—dangerous to any who threaten him and fiercely loyal to those who care for him. In this story, man and animal alike are either destroyed by circumstances or adapt to survive.
This book is recommended for people who are interested in the way characters respond in life threatening situations. Do they find inner strength? Do they lose their souls? The story will also appeal to those animal lovers who can cope with the cruel events that the animals experience while appreciating the sympathetic treatment of Buck, the main character. I personally fell in love with him years ago and named my first long-haired shepherd Buck in his honor.