Samantha's Reviews > The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
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This was a re-read for me. I read it first when I was an Alaska-obsessed child, who was reading everything my library had that had any connection to the state. I loved it then.

Now I'm a lot older, and I lived in Nome, Alaska for a decade or so myself and have my own firsthand experience, albeit a century or so after London's Gold Rush experience in Alaska and the Yukon territory.

There's still a lot to love. London's firsthand knowledge of the landscape and many of the people in it adds vitality to the story. I still really enjoyed the dog's-eye view, and Buck was anthropomorphized in ways that felt heart-true to me, having shared my life with a Husky dog for a time. It's not difficult to believe that a smart and strong dog would feel much as Buck is portrayed as feeling in the face of these experiences.

On the other hand, it's weird to read something set in that region of the world that doesn't acknowledge the native cultures, other than to portray them as maltreating their dogs (letting them starve) and randomly attacking peaceful mining camps (with arrows? like John Wayne is in this movie?). Racist and inaccurate at best. I'm actually glad there wasn't much mention of Native Alaskan or Canadians because I have a feeling it would been some seriously cringey reading.

Still, overall, it holds up pretty well. I still was cheering for happiness for Buck.

I was struck this time by the muddled Darwinist politics underlying the whole thing and the code of masculinity. It stays more underground than when you read Hemingway, for example, but there's definitely some ax-grinding about what makes a "real man" going on in these pages. It's also definitely a rough read if you're strongly affected by scenes of animal abuse. (BTW, I've never met any mushers who would treat their dogs like this).

If you've never read it, I'd still say you should for beauty of language and insight into an experience of a certain group of people at a certain time and place. But, as with many older books, its age shows at times, and not always flatteringly.

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Reading Progress

December 27, 2012 – Shelved
November 10, 2019 – Started Reading
November 13, 2019 – Finished Reading

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