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Jack London and His 'Wild Side'

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Jack London and His 'Wild Side' A Research Paper 3rd Period AP English Wexler Many of Jack London's novels have the unique characteristic of portraying survival of the fittest, the humanizing of animals, and a contrast of savagery and civility in their protagonists. Subsistence was the number one priority for heroes and "villains" in many of London's books. This quest for existence and life was a difficult one in the harsh environments Jack London favored as settings in his books. Therefore survival of the fittest was the law and it sparked the transitions between savagery and civility in its wake. Those affected were traditionally the lone animal heroes prevalent as protagonists in London's works. To portray these characters, the humanizing of them was a necessary and well-employed tactic that London also utilizes to hold the readers' interest. As most of London's works take place in the wild, it is only natural that his heroes and heroines should be individualists to be able to survive. They challenge the wrath of nature, and those who are strong enough generally live (Ludington). Although the natural world plays a grim role in London's works, it "plays no favorites," and requires those existing in it to meet its demands. ...read more.


Buck, in The Call of the Wild, takes on an almost human personality, not because of his actions or thoughts but because the reader can see his thoughts and understand his actions (McEwen). "The difference is [the book's] radical departure from the conventional animal story in style and substance- the manner in which it is 'overdetermined' in its multilayered meaning," letting readers understand the dogs better than they may understand themselves (Labor 72). 3 Not only are dogs humanized in London's canine novels, but the humans are significantly de-humanized. This personification of animals gives them very flexible personalities than those of the humans, which tend to lack depth. This reversal of roles makes it entirely possible for the dogs, which are even given names, to be characters in the sense that the humans of the novels will never achieve. Even Judge Miller, "by whose Santa-Clara, California, fireside the young Buck lay in innocence and peace before he was 'dognapped,' has more of a function than a character at all. The humans in The Call of the Wild such as John Thornton, 'Black' Burton, and other bad guys are 'stock characters' for which the reader 'provides' their qualities from other reading rather than discover them in the novel (Ashley). ...read more.


His mistreatment was not the only factor in Buck's transformation, the sense of a call back to "nature and her primal sanities" is felt by even the rankest degenerate, this is the cal of the wild (Sandburg 29). And with a fitting ending, The Call of the Wild closes: 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. (Ashley) Throughout these novels, there can be seen a pattern of the same prevalent three prevalent themes. Each interrelated with one another, forming the same types of scenarios, and the same consistent fantastic plots that made London's works famous. The main characters' discovery of themselves sets in motion the reader's own self-discovery. The fact that this lesson 6 lies in the lives of canines and not other humans is the true test of London's ability to humanize animals. In the end this combination forms for a more potent emotional attachment to these dogs than to any other type of fictional character. All these attest to London's novels being viewed as timeless classics. ...read more.

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