Old longings nomadic leap. Chafing at custom’s chain; Again from its brumal sleep. Wakens the ferine strain. John Myer O’ Hara’s poem “Atavism”, located at the very beginning of the novel, fully describes the theme and the mood of a book no other than Jack London’s timeless classic “Call of the Wild”. This is a tale about the emancipation from civilization and the embrace of wilderness; a tale in which the protagonist, Buck, was a Scotch Collie struggling in the manacles of humanity; while the call of the wild seems incessant, it signals the advent of a primitive, untamed form of life for him. As the story begins, Buck was a domesticated dog, pampered and comfortable, before he was sold to become a sledge dog during which he was treated with poor conditions by his subsequent masters. Eventually, he learnt how to cope with the hostitlity of his companions and to get used to the harsh environment he was living in. He became a genuine wolf and soon when the claws of humanity lost their grasp. He responded to the call of the wild, a mysterious howl from the depth of a forest, and succumbed to a living which is of his breed. The book was written in a strong, lurid style, depicting the cruelty of nature and the physical violence of dog fights, which is quite unique and tantalizing. Yet it was the ambience of the story that stands out the most. The story sets on the snowy mountains and tundra of Alaska, where sunlight is dim and life is scarce. There the boundary of the world of human and the world of nature is blurred, and life fights for survival instead of other trivial matters which a modern day human would do. Such image commands a sense of calmness to one’s mind, making us reflect on the rationale behind all the activities of our daily life. Why are we bounded by so many rules and standards given by the society? And why should we conform, instead of defy, and to live the life we truly belong. The theme of breaking free and striving for existence is what the novel is all about.
If I were to use a picture to represent this story, I would draw a Scotch Collie sitting on the edge of cliff, howling towards the sky, with an expanse of Alaskian trees and snow below it. Not only will such picture accurately represent the main theme, it will also show Buck’s return to the wild, which is what the whole plot circulates around. Buck is hapless and pitiful throughout the plot, being forced to adapt and to obey. Later he met a master called John Thornton, the only man that would caress him and love him. However, he was soon killed and left Buck behind heart-broken. Toiled physically and mentally, Buck’s endless struggle for survival made him a hero in the hearts of all readers. Therefore, by adding him , the picture will fully show what the readers’ thought of the story, affectionate and thought-provoking with the protagonist finally having a good ending.
If I were asked to write a sequel to this story, I would surely continue Buck’s journey as a maverick and to further discuss the conflicts between nature and civilization. When the story ended, Buck was referred as the “Ghost Dog” by the locals, a formidable man hunter with prolific offspring. Now free to stride across the lands of Alaska, it will be a perfect opportunity for the narrator to account more about the fate of Buck, probably more encounters with humans, evil or kind, reckless or wise.