Notes on Call of the Wild Themes

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Call of the Wild Topic Tracking: Emotion

Emotion 1: Buck feels calm and at ease while residing at Judge Miller's place. He is happy inside, because he is not abused at all by the Judge or his family. Buck is given the freedom to run around on his own without a leash, and because of this he lives a worry-free existence, content with the life he is leading.

Emotion 2: After being stolen away by Manuel, Buck feels pain for the first time. Upset at these new surroundings and unconsciously releasing a deep growl, a man pulls Buck's leash tightly and hurts him. Buck becomes very angry when he is then tossed like luggage into the train's baggage car, as he tries to understand what exactly is happening to him. Since he has led such a carefree existence, all of these sensations and feelings within are totally unknown to him.

Emotion 3: Enraged, Buck is filled with an anger that he has never before felt in his life, and he haphazardly attacks the man in the red sweater in spite of the beating he receives in return. Buck feels intense pain as a result, as the club smashes his body, his nose, and then cruelly smashes his genitals. As a result, Buck's anger goes away when he gives in to the man and admits that he has lost the fight.

Emotion 4: Curly is ruthlessly torn apart by the other sled dogs, and Buck feels very sad that such a friendly dog as her suffers such a tragic fate. Buck also hates Spitz from this moment, because he did not offer assistance to Curly, and he even actually seemed to laugh as she was being slain. This brave dog also becomes more confident in his own ability to survive, vowing not to ever let his guard down as Curly had done.

Emotion 5: Over time, the primal impulses surge stronger within Buck. When he lived in California, Buck did not have a chance to express himself fully, to howl or hunt or even associate with other wild dogs. Now all of this has changed, and Buck quickly adapts to these new surrounding, feeling increasingly like he belongs here rather than back in California. These primal impulses, long since dormant, begin to fill Buck's blood once more.

Emotion 6: Buck feels intense jealousy and hatred towards Spitz, feelings which he has never experienced before. He hates the dog because of the coldness with which he treated Curly's death, and Buck is filled with jealousy to have the sled leadership position for himself. For now, the position still belongs to Spitz.

Emotion 7: As Francois showers Buck with a just kindness, caring for his frozen feet and watching over him, the dog feels a growing sense of affection towards this man. He is eager to please, and in return Francois places the highest faith in Buck's intelligence and strength.

Emotion 8: The wildness of Buck's wolfish ancestors continues to consume his spirit. At night in Dawson City, Buck goes out into the streets and howls at the moon with the other dogs. He does not miss California, for it is here that he finally progresses in knowledge and worldly experience, growing into a powerful, wild dog, much in contrast to the naive, sheltered existence he had lived in the Southland.

Emotion 9: When Perrault and Francois finally agree to allow Buck to be the sled team's leader, he is overjoyed that this long desired position is his at long last. He has had to be very patient, fighting Spitz to the death for it, but his hard work certainly has paid off. Buck understands more and more that here in the wild only the strong survive, and the weaker creatures, like Spitz, simply die out and disappear.

Emotion 10: An intense sense of yearning fills Buck's entire body, as he daydreams about his ancestral heritage as a wild wolf, consumed by impulses to hunt and be free. However, he remains trapped performing these menial labors for the men, hauling mail back and forth from Dawson City. Buck is restless and he craves new experiences that will allow him to further explore this primal side of himself that is the call of the wild.

Emotion 11:Unlike the feelings of intense hurt Buck had felt after witnessing Curly's death long ago, he now readily accepts Dave's death as a fact of life, because he is not strong enough to survive. Survival has become a reality of life, and those who are not strong enough merely die. Buck feels casual acceptance now, rather than being emotionally distraught about it. Rather than worrying about others, he worries instead about himself.

Emotion 12: Buck grows increasingly weary of the mistreatment he suffers at the hands of the American trio. They do not appreciate the work that the sled dogs do for them, starving them, working them for long hours, and beating them when they insist on resting because they are so tired. Rather than allowing himself to be beaten down, Buck is now resilient and does not complain, nor does he try to lash out against Hal. Instead he merely follows orders to the best of his ability, clinging on tightly to his innate ability to survive.

Emotion 13: Because John Thornton is so kind to Buck and saved his life from Hal's cruel hands, the dog falls in love with this man. He is also filled with a persistent fear that he, too, will disappear like the other people in his life have before such as Perrault, Francois, and the Scotch half-breed. Buck's love for John burns stronger than anything he has ever felt in his entire life. At one point the man jokingly tells Buck to jump off of a cliff, and the dog immediately prepares to leap off until Thornton holds him back. Buck's love and loyalty to John Thornton is all-consuming.

Emotion 14: Buck eventually becomes the victim of conflicting forces raging within him. First and foremost there is his intense love for John Thornton, but also there is a growing restlessness, as his primal impulses encourage him to wander off into the forest, to hunt and howl like the wild beast that he is. For the time being, Thornton's power is stronger than the voice of the wild, and Buck chooses to stay with this man.

Emotion 15: When he wins sixteen hundred dollars for John Thornton after pulling a thousand pound sled, Buck feels great pride within himself because this makes Thornton very happy. Although he doesn't quite understand that a gamble has occurred, all he knows is that John wanted him to accomplish this task and he succeeded. Afterwards, Buck bites John's hand to show his love, and John hugs him, swearing affectionately at the dog.

Emotion 16: While Thornton is busy mining, Buck begins to wander out more into the forest, exploring and hunting helpless animals. The dog alwasy returns eventually to Thornton, however, as on one occasion when a new wolf friend he makes wants him to stay in the woods with him, Buck nevertheless feels drawn back to Thornton's campsite. His burning love for this man persists in being stronger than the call of the wild.

Emotion 17: Buck is furious when he discovers that the Yeehats have murdered John Thornton and his companions while he was away hunting a moose. In response, the wild dog tears out the throats of several Yeehats without warning, chasing the others away, after which he mourns deeply for the loss of his best friend. With Thornton dead, only the call of the wild remains for Buck to follow now.

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