Critics have identified many underlying themes in the novel. Tom Feller describes the story as "an allegory of humanity’s progression from nature to civilization." He also expresses that "the [story's] implication is that the metamorphosis of both the individual and society will require violence at some point." Paul Deane states that "[in the novel,] society demands a conformity that undermines individualism." London himself took influence from Herbert Spencer's words: "survival of the fittest", as well as Friedrich Nietzsche's idea of a "superman" (or "superdog", in this instance) and of "the worship of power".
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