When your past calls out to you, haunts you, chases you and then finally catches up with you, you realize who you are, and you come to terms with yourself. This is what happened to Buck, the central character in ‘The Call of the Wild’ by Jack London. Buck is a big, strong, husky dog, living the warm and cozy life of a pet in the beautiful southern lands. But by a change of fate, he is sold from master to master, until he finally ends up in the cold and ruthless Arctic region. The book takes you with Buck in his journey from the south to the north, which is also a journey of his mind, his thoughts, and his powers. He learns to read humans, and also dogs, for that matter. As he learns to live in the wilderness, he is beckoned by memories of what he was and what his ancestors were. His instincts guide him and he knows he was meant to live in the wild.
The book shows an amazing transformation of a docile pet dog into a ferocious beast. Buck steals, kills, and even feels proud of the fact. But all the while, he is loyal to the people who have been good to him. He even almost dies to save his master. I feel Buck’s life in the book is very similar to the life of an orphaned child, who is left to the mercy of strangers. It learns to fend for itself. It grows up and strives to make a place for itself in the world. It finds both good and bad people along the way but ultimately learns to read them, all the while thinking about its origins. Buck also goes through all of this and emerges a victor.
It is said that when a dog senses threat or danger, it raises its hackles. It remains fully alert and ready to pounce. I must say, whenever I found Buck to be in a dangerous situation, I sat upright, fully alert, ready to close the book if anything happened to him. The writing style is simple, yet gripping. It makes you fall in love with Buck as if he were your own pet dog. It is a short book, and very easy to read. If you are travelling during winter, this would be an ideal book to carry with you as you head into the white cold. All that said, if you love dogs, this is a must-read for you.
About The Author:
Jack London (1876- 1916), born in San Francisco, was an American writer and journalist. Also available by the same author as part of the Rupa Classics Library: Moon Face and Other Stories and White Fang.