First: We are all still alive. Lucid and I just got done with (technically; we still have English and Environmental Science papers) a string of exams that, well, weren’t so great when they happened, so we won’t be reliving them. And Fuzzy’s tests begin this Monday. Joy.
Anyway, this is a book that I loved when I first read it, aged twelve. I just read it over and I’ve no idea why I haven’t read it more because it = 100% genius.
Call of The Wild ( by Jack London) is the story of a Scots Shepherd/Saint Bernard named Buck. At the start of the novel, Buck is a pet dog, living the good life with a kind master. However things change as he is um, dog-napped and sold by the gardener to pay off a debt. From here on he is expected to be part of a team of sled dogs, adapting to the harsh winter and understanding the more primal ways of his companions. But Buck learns fast and, in fact, ousts the head of the pack after gaining their respect through his formerly stifled natural instincts for leadership. Eventually, he is sold again– this time to a family who know near-nothing about sledding and whose foolhardiness would have killed them several times over had it not been for Buck. In the course of their journey, they meet a certain John Thorton who notices their ineptitude and warns them from traveling further throught the thin ice. They ignore his warnings, but Buck, who also recognizes the potential danger refuses to draw them ahead. Thorton, recognizing him for the extraordinary animal that he is, cuts him free and takes him from the family. John is a good master and Buck soon grows to worship him. On the other hand, the wilderness tugs on his more primeval nature in the form of an alluring, unfettered pack of wolves. He follows them and disappears for several days. On his return to visit his beloved master, he finds that he has been killed by Native Americans. In a wild fury, Buck hunts them down and kills them all to avenge his master and returns every so often to the site of his death.
The story captures beautifully the two strong contrasting tendencies of a domesticated creature such as Buck is– the unconditional adoration and loyalty to a good master that earns dogs the rank of Man’s Best Friend and their more aggressive, impassioned response to the call of the wild.
If that wasn’t convincing enough, I shall let Jack London’s words do the talking:
All that stirring of old instincts which at stated periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and plain to kill things by chemically propelled leaden bullets, the blood lust, the joy to kill — all this was Buck’s, only it was infinitely more intimate. He was ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing down, the living meat, to kill with how own teeth and wash his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood... It filled him with a great unrest and strange desires. It caused him to feel a vague, sweet gladness, and he was aware of wild yearnings and stirrings for he knew not what.
There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life and beyond which life cannot rise.. and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry.. He was sounding the deeps of his nature.
When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.