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The Call of the Wild

Jack London


A conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces

Throughout his turbulent life, Jack London sought real-life adventure, which often culminated in conflicts, violence, suffering or struggles for survival.

Most of his stories are built on plots that involve physical force, endurance, and struggle. These situations were second-nature to a man to had pirated California oyster beds, hunted seals in the North Pacific, prospected for gold in the Klondike and worked as a war correspondent.

In fact, Londons works provide some of the most clear-cut examples in American literature of plots that involve characters conflicts with other characters, with Nature and also characters against themselves.

1st basic kind of external conflict

Character against Nature
Prospectors digging for gold in the Yukon Perrault and Franois at the Thirty Mile River The dog team enduring the 2,500 mile trek

2nd basic kind of external conflict

Character against other characters
Buck resisting his kidnappers and the dogbreaker Buck battling Spitz to death Buck defending Thornton against Burton Buck taking revenge against the Yeehats

3rd basic kind of conflict: internal

Character against self
Bucks decision to steal food and lead a less civilized way of life Bucks struggle to heed the opposing calls of the wild and love for a master

Exploring themes
Group 1: What does it mean to be a human being? Group 2: What does it mean to be civilized? Group 3: What does it mean to be brave? Group 4: What do you learn about yourself when you face Nature? Group 5: Is experience a hard teacher? Group 6: What is a survivor?

The Call of the Wild explores the effects of the natural environment and contact with human beings on the primitive and fundamentally noble spirit of the animal embodied in the dog Buck. What follows are some of the themes that run through London's novel:

The theme of Survival

Survivors are those who adapt to changing circumstances

The theme of taming wild creatures

Can wild creatures truly be tamed?

The theme of self-preservation

Self- preservation is the first law of nature

The theme of civilisation

Is civilization always civilized

The theme of Experience

Is experience always a hard teacher?

The theme of moral laws

Think about the urge to survive. Is it ultimately more powerful than the moral laws of human civilization?

The theme of love

Can love be a civilizing force?