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Shanen SilvermanEnglish 168: Section 31110/9/12Experience and Adaptation: Surviving the WildA harsh environment requires a strict set of skills that an individual needs survive. Whether it is burning desert or freezing tundra, animals in the wild have instinctual laws and adaptations that allow them to survive efficiently. Throughout The Call of the Wild, Buck undergoes a devolution that shifts his demeanor from a domestic animal into a dominant primordial beast. London labels this change “retrogression,” and with it comes the ability to survive the wild (19). Buck‘s experiences facilitate this devolution, and aid his existence. There are three levels to Buck’s retrogression. The first level is the contrast between his past and present lifestyle. In this stage, Buck learns that the wild is savage, and follows a single unspoken law, “The Law of Club and Fang.” The second level is Buck’s capacity for adaptation. He loses his civilized morality as he steals and kills in order to survive. Finally, after killing the Yeehats, Buck devolution is complete, and he returns to the wild-with no fear of man, as a dominant primordial entity.Buck’s early encounters in the story provide foundation for his devolution, by allowing him to differentiate between the wild and his past domesticity. Buck’s lesson from the man in thered sweater and the death of Curly, reveal to Buck the ruthlessness of his new environment. Before he arrives in the North, the man in the red sweater beats Buck into submission “breaking”him into the mindset of an obedient sled dog (6). This beating was life changing for Buck, and London describes the club as a “revelation” (10). The beating does not only teach Buck that he must respect his human masters, but he must also honor a general, primal form of law in the
wild. London illustrates the necessity of abiding by this law when Curly is killed in a dogfight.