Below, readers can explore a few of the best quotes from Jack London’s masterpiece, The Call of the Wild. These touch on themes like civilization versus the wild, survival, violence, and the natural world’s power.
Civilization vs. The Wild
The ghostly winter silence had given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.
This beautiful lyrical line of text uses two different seasons as images to describe the awakening of Buck’s instinctual, wild heart. Thus far throughout his life, he lived in “ghostly winter silence” and is now a “great spring murmur” of “awakening life” budding with him.
Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.
Here, the narrator depicts how throughout the novel, Buck feels the “call” that was “sounding” and felt to him “mysteriously thrilling and luring.” It compelled him to turn away from humanity into plunge into the forest. It’s not until the novel’s end after John Thornton dies, that he finally gives in.
He had been suddenly jerked from the heart of civilization and flung into the heart of things primordial.
This single line of text describes how the main character of Jack London’s novel was taken from his civilized home and thrust into the wilds of the north with barely time to consider what was going on. He entered into “the heart of things primordial,” a metaphor for the Yukon Territory in which he eventually heeds the call of the wild.
He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time.
Here, London alludes to the duality within Buck’s mind. He is drawn to the civilized world he’s always known, but there is also the “call of the wild” within his heart. It inspires him to go back “into the womb of Time” and retrieve his instinctual, wild self.
But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.
Quotes focused on the beauty of the natural world, and one’s connection to it are scattered throughout Jack London’s masterpiece. Here, the author takes a brief reprieve from images of violence and survival in order to describe the pleasure Buck took from running in the “dim twilight of the summer midnights. He also references the “call” of the wild that inspires Buck to leave civilization behind finally.
He had learned well the law of club and fang, and he never forewent an advantage or drew back from a foe he had started on the way to Death. He had lessoned from Spitz, and from the chief fighting dogs of the police and mail, and knew there was no middle course. He must master or be mastered; while to show mercy was a weakness.
Here, the human narrator who carries much of the novel describes how Buck learned the “law of club and fang.” That is, the law of survival says terrible things happen all the time, and one must be willing to do whatever it takes to survive and endure suffering. He learned the “law” as soon as he arrived in the wild north. He saw Spitz and a group of violent huskies kill a kind Newfoundland, Curly, with whom he became friends on the boat trip over.
He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the reign of primitive law, and he met the introduction halfway.
In these lines, the narrator describes how Buck learned about the “club.” It was a revelation and his introduction to the “reign of primitive law.” The world works differently in the north and under the command of these masters than it did in the Santa Clara Valley in California, where Buck is from. He learned that he “still no chance against a man with a club,” and it was a lesson that he never forgot for the rest of his life.
What is a good quote from The Call of the Wild?
One of the best quotes from The Call of the Wild begins with the lines, “He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death.” Here, London describes the pleasure Buck takes in running through the woods and feeling connected to his wild instincts.
What is a symbol in The Call of the Wild?
The traces and harness that the sled dogs are attached to the sled with is a powerful symbol in the novel. They symbolize the dog’s bravery, strength, but also their servitude. These implements bind them to the task their masters set for them.
What happened to the dog team in The Call of the Wild?
The entire dog team that Buck is a part of eventually dies in The Call of the Wild. He is the sole survivor after refusing to pull the sled across a frozen lake. Some of the dogs die as a result of malnutrition and exhaustion, while the final four members drown along with the three Americans.
What does fire represent in The Call of the Wild?
Fire represents life, civilization, and faithfulness in the book. It is contrasted against the forest and the icy surroundings that Buck has to endure throughout much of the novel.