I decided to read Jack London’s classic tale of Buck and his adventures in the Alaskan wilderness. I made this decision after seeing the trailer for the upcoming movie starring Harrison Ford. Also, reading The Call of the Wild checked another box on my 2020 reading challenge. For this part of my challenge, I wanted to read a book often assigned in high school, but one I had not read.
A rough start
Buck’s story starts out rough and heartbreaking. He is abducted from a loving home and carted to the Alaskan wilderness, where he is brutally taught a new way of life. It was hard to read. I pulled our dogs, Baylor and Dodger, close to my side while I read about Buck’s hardships. In the book, you read half the story before Buck meets Jack Thornton, whom he grows to love.
“Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time.”
As much as Buck loves Jack, the increasing pull of the wilderness on his soul becomes too much to resist. And so Buck begins to travel in the wild, first for a day or two, then for a week, then for weeks at a time.
“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.”
After one wilderness trip, Buck returns to camp to find Jack Thornton and his friends, human and canine alike, slaughtered. Buck does some slaughtering of his own, and leaves for the wild for good.
London’s story ends with Buck still in his prime, living the life his wild ancestors lived, becoming the best version of his wild self.
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
We’ll see how the movie adapts the book. My guess, based on the trailer linked above, is that Jack Thornton makes an earlier appearance in the movie. We will see!