A couple of years back, I started a draft on this blog about a novel that I had just finished reading. Coincidentally, a couple of years back, I was also on my last months of Ph.D., writing a thesis and finding jobs and stuff. Those things, accompanied by the arrival of Covid, made everything in my life become a giant pile of mess.
I fought teeth and nail just to finish my thesis on time and defended it, and then continued by seeking and (thank God) finding a new job. It was not until almost two years later that I could finally start breathing again and reading books for the sake of reading.
I’ve never said this before but Call of the Wild by Jack London is probably, seriously, one of the best novels I’ve ever read in my adult life. It ranks so high up, easily top 3.
Now with that out of the way, I can say that there are some parts of this book that taught me and disturbed me a lot at the same time. The biggest, and probably the most significant one, was during the early part of the story, where a dog was trying to be kind to another dog—which was much more seasoned, and wilder than her, in a sense—and seeing her kindness, civility was paid with violence immediately. Why?
In the word of Buck himself:
So that was the way. No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you.
Those simple three sentences hold deeper meaning in my opinion, and some of them are easy to digest: this is the wild. They are animals. Being kind and sympathetic would mean showing weaknesses, and the wild don’t like weaknesses. Going into the wild would mean shedding the virtues of civilization and back into the ages of self-protecting, constant vigilance, staying strong, and never going down nor giving up.