Chris McCandless and Buck serve as examples of the archetype of the wild through their experiences of leaving where they feel most comfortable and answering the call of the wild. They show that each experience is inimitable because the wild is unique to every individual. For Buck, the wild is a place outside of civilization and his dependence on man, where the external threats of nature exist and he must prove himself as a true animal with instincts for survival. In McCandless' case, the place outside of civilization is actually an escape from his fears because the wild for him is in relationships, where the threat of intimacy exists and he must learn to trust others for happiness. This is because for each of us, the wild is what we fear, a place outside of our comfort zone and, as McCandless' experience shows, not necessarily a physical place. To render to the call of the wild we must leave everything that makes us feel protected, and we must make ourselves completely vulnerable to the wild. McCandless and Buck show that in order to successfully respond to the call of the wild we must relinquish control and drop our guards, until ultimately the fear subsides and we find peace with ourselves as well as with our environments.
In The Call of the Wild, Buck finds comfort in his relationships with man. When he is initially removed from Judge Miller's house in Santa Clara Valley, he is given his first exposure to the wild where, "every moment life and limb were in peril" (London 31). But soon he finds himself not entirely ready to leave civilization and answer the call of the wild, because he must first experience love. Buck establishes a relationship with John Thornton, and "love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time" (London 74). This is the final step toward answering the call of the wild for Buck because love itself has its own elements of the wild. The feelings shared between them were often based on inexplicable natural impulses, characteristic of the relationship between man and beast. "He went wild with happiness when Thornton touched him or spoke to him....the strength of Buck's gaze would draw John Thornton's head around, and he would return the gaze, without speech, his heart shining out of his eyes as Buck's heart shone out" (London 75). The connection that the two share is very important in Buck's transformation because it is the last thing he must surrender to complete his transformation and answer the call of the wild.
John Thornton, "who is unafraid of the wild," is the last thing Buck has that protects him from the hostile environment where only the strong survive (London 86). After Thornton nurses Buck back to life from his brush with starvation, Buck slowly realizes that he is ready to face the wild, where he would find his true self, not as a pet or a sled dog, and most importantly as an animal without a master. It becomes apparent that,
Faithfulness and devotion, things born of fire and...