Bearing in mind the fact that Buck’s life would not have substantially changed if he wasn’t kidnapped and thrown into a world of turmoil, how can anyone deny that Buck’s environment affected him? Before, in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley, Buck led a sheltered life of a ranch dog who is loved by everyone. In contrast, as he pull loads around the Yukon Territory in the traces of a sled dog, Buck must adjust to the miserably cold weather and the extremely hard work to survive the live-or-die situation. Fighting to adapt and live, Buck had to accept and learn the lessons of the arctic. Buck was introduced to the law of club and fang. The club was the master’s protection against the uncivilized beastly dogs. The club allowed the master to dominate and take full control over the dogs, such as the red sweater man had over the disobedient Buck. With the club, Fran?ois was able to teach Buck his place in the dog team. The law of the fang permitted the dogs to battle each other as they struggle to survive in the North. The fangs were the dogs’ only weapon to challenge a master. Buck learns to function as member of a dogsled team through his fellow teammates, endure horrible treatment at the hands of cruel owners, and survive in the harsh Arctic wilderness that offers little food. Clearly, Buck had lived in two different environments. Buck’s environment had impacted him and affected changes in his character.
Buck was deeply affected by his environment, not his primordial instincts. “Didn’t Buck’s primordial instincts help him?” the opposition would ask. The opposing viewpoint is that Buck had pulled out his primordial instincts from within and only equipped with his primordial instincts, was Buck fit to survive the Northland. While venturing into the world of the uncivilized, Buck relied on his primordial instincts to survive. But, did Buck really have his primordial instincts all along, even when he was living in the Santa Clara Valley? No, Buck only gained these instincts when he adopted the uncivilized ways of the North. Buck’s environment had obviously provoked Buck to develop these primordial instincts. In addition, if it weren’t for the unfortunate situation he was smashed into the middle of, Buck’s primordial instincts wouldn’t have been essential in the first place. To
that environment had led Buck to use his instincts, the scarce food supply can be a backer. Early on, as one of the conditions of the northern environment, the scarce food supply had influenced Buck to steal bacon from Perrault. Buck’s daily portion of dried salmon wasn’t adequate for the amount of energy Buck burns to pull the sled. Inevitably, Buck lost weight. No longer 140 pounds, his bones showed through his fur. Obviously, Buck was affected by his environment. Hunger can drive dogs mad, as evidenced when the starving huskies attacked the dog team. Buck turns to increasingly wild ways. By joining in on the dogfights and cleaning away the remains after dogfights with the other dogs, a very uncivilized behavior, Buck is able to fulfill his needs. Toward the end of the novel, Buck felt such a strong blood longing that Buck would spend a few days in the forest and hunt by himself. Therefore, Buck was affected by the environment and forced to follow the uncivilized ways of the North.
The dogs surrounding Buck were part of the environment affecting him. During Buck’s first night as a sled dog, Buck learned how to make a bed in the snow from Billee. By digging holes in the snow, Buck created warm shelters for himself all through the chilly winter nights. In the beginning, when Buck was still an amateur sled dog, he was taught by Dave and Sol-leks to follow directions and concentrate hard on the trail. Buck is learning how to fight and turns on the head of his team as the ultimate combatant. Meanwhile, tension is brewing between Buck and Spitz, the leader of the dog team. Spitz shows himself to be very aggressive in the eyes of Buck. Spitz senses Buck’s desire to be the head of the team. While Buck enjoys a sense of leadership and strength when he leads the entire pack in a chase to catch a rabbit, Spitz’s intervenes, which was, to Buck, an open act of aggression. They fight. Both dogs see the fight over the rabbit as the opportunity to eliminate the other dog for good. Buck wins. This kill gives him a new sense of strength and accomplishment. From this point onward, he sees himself as a powerful animal capable of both self-defense and attack. By killing Spitz, Buck was fully transformed into a primordial beast. The dogs had changed Buck’s life and led him into the leader position on the team.
The chief effects over Buck were from his masters. When the broken-down team was discarded by the government and sold to a cruel and unreasonable man named Hal, Buck realizes that the bad qualities of a master can heavily affect the dogs. Buck had no
respect for Hal and never assumed Hal is superior to the dogs in any way. Hal lacked miserably in experience and was a terrible master, which unfortunately affected the dogs. Hal, his sister, and his brother in-law committed folly after folly but were too proud to follow advice. Buck realized the dogs have to pay for the humans’ mistakes. Before long, most of the team was dead. The humans wanted to push on, though a man named John Thornton told them it is impossible to cross the ice even when the driver is experienced. Buck understood that the only form of rebellion against Hal was to lie down and remain inert despite being beaten. Buck’s will and instinct to survive are undermined by starvation and exhaustion. He took blow after blow until John Thornton rescued him from Hal. While other humans have been kind to Buck, Thornton is the first human to actually place himself in danger in order to save the dog. Hal gave Buck up to Thornton. Buck understands that Thornton is a true friend and responds with undying devotion. Buck would do anything Thorton asks, even if it was to hurt himself by jumping off of the edge of a steep cliff. Thornton affected Buck because their love was the only connection between Buck and civilization. Buck was kept from answering the call of the wild. Until death did them apart, Buck had remained faithful to Thornton and did not join the pack of wolves. In conclusion, one major effect over how Buck acted was his masters.
The change from living in a civilized world to the uncivilized wilderness had changed Buck. Buck mastered the law of club and fang, and he assimilates fully into this life, his instincts and heritage fully and permanently restored. There is something “natural” in both man and animal. When forced out of the comforts of home, it is possible for man or animal to endure the wilderness if he is driven by a quest for survival and has the will power to do so. Buck clearly personifies the proper drive and will power for survival under the harshest of conditions. Buck’s environment impacted his life and forced his character to change.