Notes on Call of the Wild Themes

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Call of the Wild Topic Tracking: Greed

Greed 1: Men to the north of Santa Clara Valley are filled with greed, as they crave instant riches during the Klondike Gold Rush. Quite unlike the cruel life faced by animals in the wild, the world of humans is not necessarily such a quest for survival, and instead is filled with luxuries. This greed in the Yukon Territory is soon going to bring trouble to Buck when he is sold as a sled dog and forced to perform hard labor.

Greed 2: As a result of Manuel's gambling problems and his greed for money, Buck is unjustly sold into servitude for a stranger at the railroad station not too far from Judge Miller's estate. Greed continues to be a wicked force afflicting humans only, for Buck is freed from such cravings for material wealth.

Greed 3: Spitz becomes greedy for food and tries to steal more than his fair share. As a result, he is whipped for this disrespect by Francois. Quite unlike the materialistic greed of the humans who crave gold and riches, this dog is greedy for the basic component in his ongoing survival: food. Although he takes more than is fair share, this greed becomes more a matter of necessity instead of being a matter of luxury as in man's materialism

Greed 4: Once again, the greed experienced by the dogs is very different from the materialistic greed experienced by the miners in the Yukon. Instead, Buck is greedy to have Spitz's position as leader of the sled team, knowing that he will have to kill Spitz to achieve this goal. This greed is not a mere luxury as with the humans, for it is a simple matter of survival of the fittest. Buck will either triumph if he is strong, or he will fail if he's too weak.

Greed 5: Buck chases a rabbit for a long time before it is abruptly ripped from his grasp and hungrily devoured by a greedy Spitz right in front of him. As a result of Spitz's selfishness, Buck launches into an aggressive attack to avenge this crime and punish Spitz for being such a cruel bully. Buck's greed to have the sled team leadership position for himself also inspires. However, unlike human greed, for these animals greed is a matter of basic survival as they argue about such essential things as strength, power, and food.

Greed 6: The humans don't care about anyone else but themselves because they just want more and more from the dogs, draining them of every last bit of energy. When Buck's sled team is too tired to be any great use, they are merely sold away for some money to three inexperienced Americans. Greed thrives throughout Alaska and the Yukon, for it is greed that drives everybody to the region with lofty visions of discovering large quantities of gold.

Greed 7: Mercedes, Hal, and Charles are so greedy that they have brought many unnecessary belongings to Skaguay including a tent, a wardrobe of clothes, and dishes. They finally throw these items away after realizing what a burden it is for the dogs to pull. Driven by visions of striking it rich quick in the Klondike River, they buy many more dogs than are necessary because of this greed once again, even though there isn't enough food for that many dogs to consume during the trip to Dawson City.

Greed 8: Mercedes is filled with greed and selfishness when she insists on riding in the sled pulled by the exhausted and malnourished dogs simply because her feet are hurting her from walking so much. She shows no concern for the welfare of the other dogs, and later on her added weight to the sled contributes to the trail collapsing beneath her, causing the remaining dogs, Hal, Charles, and Mercedes to all drown.

Greed 9: John Thornton takes advantage of Buck's affection for him by asking the strong dog to win a bet for him by pulling a sled weighing one thousand pounds. Rather than refusing the bet and sparing Buck the hardship of pulling such a great weight, Thornton accepts the offer, eager to win the sixteen hundred dollars that Matthewson has bet against him. Buck succeeds, however, and Thornton becomes a wealthy man.

Greed 10: Although he has already won a very large sum of money because of Buck, John Thornton decides to go off to try and discover even more wealth. Greed consumes him, as he embarks on a quest with Hans, Pete, and the sled dogs to discover a legendary gold mine in the uncharted wilds of the Yukon Territory. Buck does not realize where they're going, although he is excited to be exploring new lands that he has not traveled through before, and this also provides an opportunity for him to further discover the hidden wildness in himself.

Greed 11: When Thornton does finally discover a huge reserve of gold in a stream and proceeds to collect this gold together, he begins to neglect Buck more and more, prompting the faithful dog to go off on long walks through the forest, hunting wild animals and birds. Buck never forgets Thornton, however, and always returns to the campsite after he is gone for a little while just to check up on this man whom he loves. Unlike Thornton, who is consumed by a burning greed for gold, Buck remains kind-hearted and virtuous.

Greed 12: After Thornton's murder at the hands of the Yeehats, his gold becomes worthless once again since their is no man to be greedy and lust after it. Instead, it leaks haphazardly out of rotting bags, swallowed up again by the stream and the wild undergrowth that springs up around it. In the end, Thornton's greed led to his eventual death, because he was driven on a vain quest for gold just like the three Americans who died with their dreams of infinite wealth unrealized as well. The wild swallows up humanity and human desires, as all luxuries fall away and life becomes again what it was in younger days, where the strong survive and the weak die out. Buck embraces this idea, as he transitions away from the human world of greed into the wild world of survival.

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