Call of the Wild, by Jack London, begins in 1897, at the start of the Klondike gold rush. The discovery of gold in the Klondike region motivated thousands of men to head for the far north, all of them in need of dogs to pull sleds across the frigid arctic trails. Buck is an incredibly large dog, half Shepherd and half St. Bernard, who has enjoyed a leisurely life on a California ranch. He is stolen and shipped to the Yukon by his family gardener, Manuel. Buck learns to survive in this harsh environment by listening to the animal within him.
He begins to discover the primitive instincts of his ancestors, and throughout the book diverts farther and farther away from his masters. Throughout the story, Buck is very ambitious and determined to be the leader of the team. His ambition causes tension between he and Spitz, the former leader. Buck goes from being a very domesticated dog, to being a killer. “Buck stood and looked on, the successful champion, the dominant primordial beast who had made his kill and found it good. ” (Page 22)
Buck’s ambitions are able to be fulfilled by his ability to fight. Francois and Perrault constantly comment on Buck’s aggression toward Spitz. “‘Eh? Wot I say? I spik true w’en I say dat Buck two devils. ‘ This was Francois’s speech next morning when he found Spitz missing and Buck covered with wounds. ” Throughout the book, Buck is slowly found to be a force of nature. Buck’s loyalty and love for John Thornton pushes him to achieve incredible feats. Unlike his former masters, John Thornton shows Buck respect and true love.
This makes Buck feel the need to impress him. “His whole body was gathered compactly together in the tremendous effort, the muscles writhing and knotting like living things under the silky fur. ” (Page 44) “The sled swayed and trembled, half-started forward. ” (Page 44) Buck pulled a thousand pound sled, just because John Thornton told him to. This shows Buck has incredible love for his master. Towards the end of the book, when John Thornton is killed by Yeehat Indians, Buck tears through the camp and kills them.
This signifies his loss of love for humanity. He then joins a wolf pack, and uses his ambitiousness and ability to fight to become their leader. All three of his characteristics allow Buck to achieve his desires, and makes him an ideal leader. His ambitiousness keeps him focused on what he wants, his ability to fight permits him to execute his plans, and his love and loyalty for John Thornton gives him the motivation he needs. These things created a dog who becomes a legend of the forest.