A Study of Jack London’s Belief in Darwinism
Jack London has a strong belief in Darwinism, survival of the fittest, during thelate 1800’s through the early 1900’s, when he wrote. Throughout his writings, manycharacters display London’s belief in Darwinism. In the novel, The Call of the Wild,Jack London’s belief in social darwinism is portrayed by animals interacting withhumans, each other, and the environment. This can be shown through Buck, a house dogturned sled dog, interacting with his masters, other dogs, and the Yukon wilderness.
As Buck travels from master to master throughout the course of the novel helearns, through trial and error, what behavior brings rewards, and that which bringspunishment.[Buck] had never been struck by a club in his life, and didnot understand. …he was [now] aware that it was a club,but his madness knew no caution. A dozen times hecharged, and as often the club broke the charge and smashedhim down (London 18).
Buck “…had learned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. …the lesson was driven home to Buck: a man with a club was a lawgiver, a master to be obeyed…” (London 20). Buck learned to do as his masters say. “…he grew honestly to respect them. He speedily learned that Perrault and Francois were fair men…” (London 21). Buck also learned when and how to defend himself against man.
London’s depiction of Buck’s struggle to learn how to survive in an unfamiliarenvironment has been compared to western society’s struggle with encroaching communism. “The study of Jack London’s work became a mirror of the turbulent McCarthy era…” (Veggian 2). Through these struggles, Buck was able to adapt and survive in a world controlled by man.
Buck also had to learn when and how to fight other dogs. Eventually BuckFought and killed Spitz to become lead dog. “Buck stood and looked on, the successfulchampion, the dominant primordial beast who had made his kill and found it good”(London 42). London often witnessed these dog fights and this influenced his writing.“…he found the first successful theme for his writing in a last frontier splurge…” (Walker 12). Although Buck had troubles with his new peers, he also had a great conflict with his new home.