Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

As luck would have it, I bought this book from a charity shop for 50 cents. The Call of the Wild by Jack London is one of the books from the booklist that I created with Jon Bear. You can also download the book for free at Project Gutenberg .

The Call of the Wild is the first book that I have read where the main character is an animal. The book is about a dog called Buck. Buck is a mix of Saint Bernard and Scotch Shepard. At the start of the book, Buck has a good life for a dog. He is owned by a judge who has a large property, a big house and lotsof servants. He is well treated by everyone in the household. Buck’s life changes when he is stolen and sold to become a sled dog. He is transported from his sunny home in California to the Yukon, a territory that borders between Alaska and Canada where there is a Gold Rush.

Buck is passed on to many masters to pull sledges across the harsh artic terrain. He is treated badly by most of his masters, getting beaten up and forced to work until exhaustion.  All the dogs are treated cruelly, whipped and clubbed and shot when no longer able to pull a sledge. To survive in the new environment Buck starts to recall the instincts of his ancestors, he listens to the call of the wild.

I enjoyed reading this book. Jack London’s writing is beautifully descriptive and I could really believe that the story was told from the point of view of a dog. I liked how Buck and the other animals couldn’t verbally communicate with each other like in Disney movies. Buck used his body language to show how he was thinking and feeling. I thought Buck’s transformation from loveable house pet to working dog was well done. There was a steady progress showing Buck’s psyche change as he accepted his new life and there was a change in him physically as worked during the months.

His development (or retrogression) was rapid. His muscles became hard as iron, and he grew callous to all ordinary pain. He achieved an internal as well as external economy. He could eat anything, no matter how loathsome or indigestible; and once eaten, the juices of his stomach extracted the last least particle of nutriment; and his blood carried it to the farthest reaches of his body, building it into the toughest of tissues.

(London, 1903, p33).

I wished that my copy had a map of the region that Buck was in so I could judge the distance of his travels.  A glossary would have been a nice feature as well for some of the sled stuff that was mentioned in the book; as well as some explanations of the time period the story was based in.

I think this book is targeted towards boys but you might like this book  if you like Black Beauty by Anna Sewell or watched Balto or read White Fang, which was another book written by Jack London.   The Call of the Wild is a quick read. For a fast reader, you could probably finish it in 10 minutes so it’s a nice little book to read while you are waiting for something or a want a short story to read in bed.  The Call of the Wild has been adapted to film many times so you can always watch a movie as well.

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