Heroism In Jack London's The Call Of The Wild

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“Heroism is endurance for one moment more”- George F. Kennan (diplomat and historian). In 1912, The Methodist Review published a review by literary critic Philo M. Blake, Jr., stating that the heroes in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild are not genuine heroes because of their savageness and barbarism. Barbarism is the absence of civilization and culture, or even extreme cruelty or brutality. This statement is not justified, however. In the novel, the protagonist is Buck, a dog that was kidnapped and sold to work as a sled dog, who must undergo many changes. Buck was raised as a house pet who was treated very well by his owners. He is then forced to become a sled dog in the brutal wilderness, where any complaining is not tolerated. Buck shows…show more content…
In The Call of the Wild, John Thornton is bragging about Buck’s strength and gets caught in his bluff. John says that Buck can pull 1,000 pounds and walk off with it for one hundred yards. A man named Matthewson bets him $1,600 that Buck cannot do it. John Thornton does not want to be embarrassed by his lie, so he accepts the offer. “Thornton’s doubt was strong in his face, but his fighting spirit was aroused- the fighting spirit that soars above odds, fails to recognize the impossible, and is deaf to all save the clamor for battle” (52). Buck does the impossible and breaks the sled from the frozen snow and pulls one thousand pounds one hundred yards all by himself. John Thornton wins $1,600 dollars- which is around $46,000 today- and sets off into the wilderness with his accomplices Pete, Hans, Buck, and his other dogs to look for a lost mine. Buck accomplished this tremendous act out of love for John Thornton. “As Thornton got to his feet, Buck seized his mittened hand between his jaws, pressing in with his teeth and releasing slowly, half-reluctantly. It was the answer, in terms, not of speech, but of love” (52-53).He did not know that his master would win money for this superlative accomplishment. If Buck were barbaric, as some critics may suggest, this act never would have been accomplished. Buck would…show more content…
Blake, Jr.’s criticism on Jack London’s protagonists in The Call of the Wild is not justified. Buck first shows heroism through courage and bravery when he stands up for his dog team against Spitz, the vicious, mean leader of the pack. Secondly, Buck shows love and strength- which are noble qualities- when he pulls the 1,000 pound sled-an outstanding achievement- for his master, John Thornton. Finally, Buck shows true heroism through tremendous courage, love, and another incredible achievement when he saves John Thornton from the treacherous river. Overall, even though Buck is living in a world where there is no civilization or culture, and where those ideas are rejected completely, Buck has loving qualities, extraordinary strength, and courage that are shown through his actions, thus making him a
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