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Jack London s characters and settings reflect his life in his works. This is most obvious in his novels The Call of the Wild, Martin Eden, and To Build a Fire.
Jack London was born in 1876 in San Francisco, California. He lived with his father and mother. His father was an astrologer and his mother supposedly talked to the dead. He grew up not being cared for and with very little education (Adventures 482). Jack London finished school through the 8th grade (Wilson 1).
When he turned eighteen he became an illegal oyster pirate in San Francisco.
Although he did not have very much education, he entered the University of California. He became dissatisfied with college life and left during his first year. He then followed the latest gold rush in the Yukon Territory. London did not come back with gold though. He returned with ideas that would become his literary material. Though only being in his early twenties, he began to write fiction.
Living in the Yukon had shown him nature at its harshest form, as the enemy of human survival (Adventures 482). He used his Northland experiences to draft The Call of the Wild (members.tripod).
The Call of the Wild is about a dog named Buck. A dog stolen from his home in California to be used as a sled dog in the Alaskan gold rush. He is happy with domestic life at the home of Judge Miller. But, Buck finds himself vulnerable to human and animal cruelty as he is moved from owner to owner.
His exposure to the polar wilderness kindles inactive primitive instincts in Buck, and he finds himself wanting to join the free-roaming wolves. A man named John Thorton rescues Buck from the cruelty of his owner. They develop a powerful, true affection for each other. Buck becomes very famous for his strength and his hard work. He still hears the call of the wild and he wants to answer it more than anything. When his master John is killed, his last link to human life is separated. He then joins the wolves for good (Grossman 4).
In Buck, London endows all of the cunning and savagery that he feels lurks not only in animals, but in human beings as well. Buck s transformation into a ferocious animal is London s attempt to argue his survival of the fittest philosophy; the potential primitive beast he feels lies within each individual. However, London s great love for animals and nature inspired him to also write of the loyalty, affection, and excitement experienced by Buck (member.tripod).
John Thorton symbolizes Jack London in a way. John Thorton moved away from home in search for something. He went to the Yukon Territory to find gold. Jack London went to the Yukon Territory for the same thing. Neither Jack nor John came back with gold though. John Thorton found that gold was not what he was looking for. London gave up on gold, but he found ideas for his writings (Call of the Wild).
Most of his main characters controlled their own destinies and were always in search for something. John Thorton leaves his mother and father in search for his life goal.
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