Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild by Jack London – Study Guide Questions

What is the call of the wild? Explain how Buck slowly came to understand this call. (One paragraph)

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In Chapter Seven, when Buck takes to the forest, the reader might certainly wonder whether or not he will return to John Thornton. Buck is torn between his passionate love and his unquenchable desire to "heed the call." When he meets and runs with his wolf brother, he understands for the first time what that call means. Though Buck once again chooses John Thornton, it is clear that this situation cannot continue indefinitely. The ending of The Call of the Wild is difficult to understand. It is possible that London chose this ending, because only the death of John Thornton would free Buck from his divided loyalties. Furthermore, killing the Yeehat Indians truly connects Buck to his wild past. He now understands that his dependence on human companionship is false. Dogs do not need humans to survive, for dogs are stronger than humans.

Though Buck's allegiance to the wolf-pack is strong and true, London leaves the question of the relationship between man and dog unanswered. For all his wildness, Buck never lets go of his love for John Thornton. At the same time, it is clear that Buck should never have been tamed. Man has been altered by civilization, and while a dog may be kept from his true destiny, when the circumstances are right, his instinct for "wildness and wiliness" will always reappear.