Notes on Call of the Wild Themes

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Call of the Wild Topic Tracking: Hunger

Hunger 1: After being locked away in a wooden crate for two days and two nights without food or water, Buck experiences intense hunger pangs for the first time in his life, which had up until this point been worry-free. The man in the red sweater delivers a severe beating, causing Buck to give up the struggle in favor of some food which this same man fearlessly hand feeds into the dog's mouth; he swallows hungrily. Life is about day to day survival from this moment on.

Hunger 2: The hunger burning inside of the other sled dogs inspires them to steal food away from Buck, who chooses to eat his meal more slowly than them. Buck slowly begins to understand this wild world, which centers upon the basic needs of survival, such as relieving the body's hunger for more food.

Hunger 3: Buck increasingly craves to eat meat, just as his wolfish ancestors had done. Hunger for him had not been such a big deal in the Santa Clara Valley, but now he begins to get more in touch with his primal roots. He understands that an aspect of being wild is to always be hungry, craving more food to scavenge or hunt down.

Hunger 4: Another group of dogs, starving and wild, attack Buck's sled team. They steal much of their food supply and attack the sled dogs themselves because they are mad with hunger. Perrault and Francois manage to eventually chase them away, however, although this experience is yet another testament to how survival in the wild is rooted very much upon hunger and finding food that one needs in order to survive.

Hunger 5: Buck tastes warm blood for the first time when he chases a rabbit for awhile across the snow, and this experience awakens strong feelings within his body. He hungers to taste that blood again, chasing after the fearful creature, and relishing the very act of hunting prey. Buck thus behaves more alike his wolf ancestors, who occupied a world where survival of the strongest and the fittest was law.

Hunger 6: Spitz dies an appropriate death, eaten hungrily by the other sled dogs whom he had once bullied so mercilessly. Buck first hated Spitz when he refused to aid poor Curly when she was being attacked by the sled dogs herself, and now he suffers the same fate, with Buck refusing to come to his aid. Hunger drives the other dogs upon him, and his broken and beaten body is quickly devoured by their gaping mouths.

Hunger 7: Hal brings too many dogs along for the trip to Dawson City, and he has not brought along enough food. Hunger consumes the dogs, as they soon begin to starve to death. Mercedes worsens the situation by secretly stealing what food they have and feeding extra portions to the dogs because she is trying to help them.

Hunger 8: John Thornton cures Buck's malnutrition after saving him from Hal's cruelty. He nurses Buck back to health, much to the dog's tender delight. Buck remains tough in dealing with other men and other dogs beside those that belong to Thornton, recalling that he has to prove his toughness to avoid being defeated by the other animals since life is a matter of basic survival, "Eat or be eaten." Either Buck would eat what is around him to survive, or else the other dogs would eat him, as they did to Spitz.

Hunger 9: While he is being fed meat by Thornton, Buck does not merely swallow it down, but instead he tastes the juices in the meat, savoring its flavor and drinking deeply into the water that accompanies his meal. Buck becomes more primal in his increasing love of fresh meat, rather than the fish or dried dog food he had been fed in times past. Buck's hunger remains a central force in determining what he will do.

Hunger 10: Thornton finally discovers a rich supply of gold deep in the Yukon Territory, and Buck relies increasingly upon his primal instincts by going on long trips alone into the woods. There, he hunts all sorts of wild creatures including fish, birds, rabbits, and even a black bear. He grows more skilled at hunting, relishing the work that he does, happy to satisfy the burning hunger for blood and meat that is in his stomach.

Hunger 11: Several Yeehat warriors are easily slain by an enraged Buck, their throats ripped out and gored apart. Buck is proud that he has successfully hunted the most cunning prey of all, humans. This is the final stage he undergoes before fully embracing the call of the wild and rejoining his wolf brothers in the forest. The wise and experienced dog named Buck returns there to his forest home at long last, rediscovering a whole new way of life that had been forgotten and dormant for generations in his canine family.

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