In the process of reading my way through the classics, it came time for Call of the Wild.
This is one of those books that everyone seems to profess to have read, but I suspect most people have not. I actually thought I had read it myself – probably because I had looked at the cover so often in the bookstores.
The book is written entirely from the perspective of a dog. The dog does the thinking, the feeling, and the yearning. There are some humans in the story, of course, but they are all described from the dog’s point of view – even the dialog.
Buck grew up at a big house, Judge Miller’s place, in the sunkissed Santa Clara Valley in California. For the first four years of his life he had it easy. He was a companion to the Judge, he was well fed and taken care of, and he ruled over the other critters, including a few dogs, of the estate.
When the Alaskan gold rush hit, a lot of people from California started making their way to Alaska. Those people needed supplies and provisions for the treks in Alaska. When there was a sudden demand for sled dogs, a local farm hand abducted Buck and sent him on his way.
Buck was forced on a challenging journey far away from his home, where he was repeatedly abused, beaten, starved, and injured. When he finally arrived in Alaska, his tortures actually just started, when he was harnessed in front of a sled. He had to labor day and night under the whips of the drivers, and he had to defend himself within the hierarchy of the other dogs. There was not a moment when he could allow himself to drop his guard. Life and death struggles loomed everywhere.
In the wilderness, Buck discovered a mysterious force, one beyond that of the physical world we all witness, that kept tugging on him. Buck felt the Call of the Wild.