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Setting In The Call Of The Wild

1839 words - 8 pages

Setting is a very important element of literature. The setting an author chooses for a novel can have a huge impact on several aspects of the story. For example, in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the setting greatly affects Buck, the novel’s protagonist. Buck is a big, proud St. Bernard who undergoes a dramatic change throughout the book. Buck is taken from his comfortable and luxurious home in Santa Clara, California and is thrust into the harsh environment of Alaska during the Klondike gold rush. He is forced to adapt and learn the ways of this new land just to survive in a situation that seems to grow worse every day. As the story progresses, Buck grows further and further away ...view middle of the document...

” All of these elements of Judge Miller’s estate, where Buck spends the first four years of his life, have a great impact on his personality and his physical attributes. This setting makes Buck who he is, and it is because of this setting that Buck is able to survive in the tough environments he finds himself in later.
Judge Miller’s gardener, hoping to pay off a large gambling debt, sells Buck to a man who intends to ship him to Alaska to be a sled dog. This is the beginning of a long and difficult journey for Buck. It is also the first time he is forced to adapt to his environment. Buck is put on a train, where he has the most miserable experience of his life so far. He is not treated well on this train, and his helplessness hurts his pride. London writes “For two days and nights this express car was dragged along at the tail of shrieking locomotives; and for two days and nights Buck neither ate nor drank (6).” This is indicative of the poor treatment Buck undergoes on this train. Buck becomes outraged when men begin to poke him with a stick. Here, London says that “It was all very silly, he knew; but therefore the more outrage to his dignity, and his anger waxed and waxed (6).” Buck is forced to react to a different setting for the first time, and he does not like it. However, his most valuable learning experience comes when the train stops. They drop him off at a building in Seattle where he is greeted by a man wearing a red sweater. Buck tries to attack, but the man beats him senseless with a club. London states “That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the reign of primitive line, and he met the introduction halfway (9).” This shows Buck’s willingness to adapt to situations that he realizes he cannot handle. After he submits to the man in the red sweater, Buck is stuffed into a cage, waiting to be sold to someone who needs a reliable sled dog in Alaska. Buck does not have to wait long before he is sold and loaded onto a ship headed for the Northland. This new setting he finds himself in is unpleasant, but it does teach him how to deal with a bad situation, which is crucial. According to Heidi Kelchner “Life on the ship is not particularly enjoyable, but it is a paradise compared to what awaits Buck when the ship reaches Alaska (Kelchner 2).” Buck is outraged by his journey to Alaska, but the experience hardens him and teaches him the importance of being able to adapt to his environment.
When Buck finally reaches Alaska, he has no idea what to expect. Everything is a foreign concept to him in this new world. He is shocked by the savagery he sees from everyone in this land, humans and animals included. He quickly learns that if he wants to survive in Alaska, he must obey the brutal laws set by the creatures already there; “the law of club and fang” as London calls it (13). Buck’s new masters do not give him much time to adjust before they put him to work. They harness him onto a sled the very next...

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