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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

The Call of the Wild by Jack London has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

The year is 1897. Buck, a St. Bernard and Scotch shepherd mix, is the head dog on Judge Miller’s Santa Clara estate. Gold has been discovered in Alaska, and prospectors are scrambling to find strong work dogs. One of the judge’s hired men kidnaps Buck and sells him. Buck’s new owner, the man with the red sweater, beats Buck into submission with a club. Buck watches other new dogs receive similar orientations and learns he must obey or be killed.

The man with the red sweater sells Buck to French-Canadians Perrault and François. The men take Buck and other dogs from Seattle to the Klondike on a boat called the Narwhal. Buck suddenly finds himself in the uncivilized Arctic, where he and the other dogs must draw upon their primitive instincts for survival.

He learns to be a sled dog and adapt to the frozen climate. He becomes stronger, and his senses grow keener. Buck’s canine shipmate Curly is brutally attacked and killed by the other dogs. Buck and the vicious sled team leader, Spitz, become bitter rivals. Buck and Spitz eventually fight to the death, and Buck secures his place as sled dog leader.

Led by Buck, the team makes record time to Skagway. The French-Canadians turn the dogs over to another man charged with delivering mail to the town of Dawson. A month later, they are back in Skagway. Thousands of miles of travel in poor conditions has left the dogs thin and worn-out.

A group of incompetent American travelers — including a spoiled woman named Mercedes, her husband, Charles, and her brother, Hal — purchases the dogs. They have too much baggage and no idea how to manage the sled dogs. Several dogs die under their care, and the rest suffer from overwork and starvation.

When they reach the camp of a man named Thornton, Buck can no longer move. Hal starts to beat Buck, but Thornton threatens Hal’s life if he hurts the dog. The Americans leave the near-dead Buck behind, ignoring Thornton’s warnings about the thin ice ahead. Buck watches as the travelers, the remaining dogs and the sled fall through the ice and vanish.

Thornton nurses Buck back to health. The two form a bond and save each other’s lives. Buck’s love for Thornton tempers his primal instincts for a time. Thornton makes a bet that Buck can pull a 1,000-pound sled, and the dog shocks the onlookers by succeeding. Thornton uses the money he wins to pay off debts and journey to a fabled lost mine.

He and his partners find lots of gold, and the dogs have nothing to do. During this period of boredom, Buck feels drawn to the forest and partakes in the instinctive behaviors of his ancestors. He frolics with a wolf, hunts, tracks prey and stays away for several days at a time. Only his love for Thornton pulls him back to camp.

Buck returns to camp one day and discovers Yeehat Indians have killed Thornton’s group. The furious dog attacks the tribesmen, killing several and scattering the rest. After avenging his beloved master’s death, Buck is free to return to the wild and live among the wolves. Yeehats talk about his spirit long after Buck is gone, and his traits are evident in future generations of wolves.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Buck’s first and last owners, the judge and Thornton, treat him with love and respect. Most of the masters between them abuse, neglect and overwork Buck and other dogs.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord’s name is used in vain a time or two. The words h--- and d--n also appear a few times. Various owners taunt, throw, choke, beat and kill the dogs, sometimes using clubs and axes. Dogs are starved, denied water and overworked, sometimes to the point of death. Dogs fight fiercely and rip each other’s throats and faces open in bloody scenes. Some dogs are nearly torn to pieces. Buck rips open a man’s throat to save Thornton’s life. He kills some of the Yeehat tribesmen after they kill Thornton.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

9 to 13

Author

Jack London

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Macmillan; the edition reviewed was published by SeaWolf Press in 2017

Released

On Video

Year Published

1903

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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