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London is a tremendously talented writer and his understanding of life matches his tremendous knowledge of the snow-enshrouded world of the upper latitudes. His writing is beautiful, poignant, and powerful, yet also somber, morose, and infinitely real. This isn't a story to read when you are depressed. Although The Call of the Wild is a short novel and on the surface a dog's story, it contains as much truth and reality of man's own struggles as that which can be sifted from the life's work of many other respected authors. The story he tells is stark and real, and as such, it is not pretty picture he paints, nor an elevating story he writes.

As an animal lover, I found parts of this story heartbreaking from Buck's removal from the civilized Southland in which he reigned supreme among his animal kin to the brutal cold and even more brutal machinations of hard, weathered men who literally beat him and whipped him full of lashes. Even sadder are the stories of the dogs that fill the sled's traces around him. Good-spirited Curly never had a chance, while Dave's story is only made bearable because of his brave, undying spirit. Even Spitz, the harsh taskmaster, has to be pitied, despite his harsh nature, for the reader knows this harsh nature was forced upon him by man and his thirst for riches.


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Buck's travails are long and hard, but it is his nobility of his spirit that makes of him a hero, despite the primitive animal instincts and urges that dominate him. Buck not only conquers the weather, the harshness of the men, the other dogs and the wolves he comes into contact with, he thrives. Hopes for redemption with John Thornton are dashed in the end, and that's when Buck finally gives in fully to "the call of the wild," becoming a creature of nature only. While this is a sad ending, the reader also feels joy and satisfaction at Buck's refusal to surrender and his ability to find his own kind of happiness in the harsh world in which he is placed