Call of the Wild

Why were Hal and Charles such bad dog owners what happens to the dogs while under their care


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Charles, Hal and Mercedes have become so "civilized" that they are unable to adapt to new conditions. They are not fit to survive in this world, and it is tragic that their unsuitability must take the dogs down with them. Now it seems London questions whether this life of toil and hardship is not happier for dogs and men. These people seem weak and pointless. They are unable to work hard or well. They do not understand that they rely on the dogs or that the dogs rely on them. They betray them on both counts by leaning on them too hard and by not ensuring that they have enough to eat. They also have little respect for other humans, for they are unwilling to take advice. They have no instincts, and so they are doomed.

The importance of good leaders to the happiness of the pack is proven by the pack's quick disintegration under Hal. Whereas they formerly worked together, they are now at odds, sharing too little food and quarreling among themselves. London underscores the pitiful state of the dogs by contrasting their pain with his raptures about the beauty of spring. Nature is cruel. Despite its beauty, it remains as difficult and violent as ever. The pleasant heat of the sun creates the very conditions that will lead to the sled team's death.