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The Call of the Wild is a 1903 novel by Jack London. The plot revolves around a dog named Buck and how his primal instincts return as he serves as a sled dog in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush. It's usually considered his best novel, and he followed it with a Spiritual Successor called White Fang, a longer and even darker story about a wolf being domesticated and eventually sent to live in San Francisco. Because the protagonist is a dog, it is often mistaken for a kid's book. The dark tone and gritty violence make it decidedly not. The novel has had a lot of adaptations over the years, usually focusing on the human characters more than the dogs.
These adaptions include:
- A 1935 version starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young.
- The 1972 film starring Charles Heston and Mick Steele
- An anime film adaptation in the 1980's by Toei Animation
- A different anime adaptation called Anime Yasei no Sakebi (English Anime Cry of Wildness)
- A 1997 adaptation, The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon starring Rutger Hauer, which was actually fairly faithful to the book.
- A television series broadcast in 2000.
- A family-friendly PG-rated film called Call of the Wild in Digital Real-D 3D, which failed at the box office
Tropes used by the book:
- Berserk Button: The book has a grizzled older sledding dog named Sol-Leks, with one blind eye. Buck, the mutt protagonist of the novel, takes a nasty bite when he approaches Sol-leks from his blind side and is careful never to do it again.
- God have mercy on your soul if you hurt John Thorton in front of Buck. He will tear you to pieces!
- Big Badass Wolf Buck becomes the alpha of a wolf pack.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Comic Trio: Hall, Charles, and Mercedes. At least, they're comic until their inexperience starts to endanger their lives and those of their dogs. Eventually they drive their sled onto thin ice despite a warning, killing themselves and all their remaining dogs.
- Death by Newbery Medal: Inverted: John Thornton dies.
- Different As Night and Day: Billee and Joe.
- Eaten Alive: All dogs that lose a fight.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: All over the place.
- Handicapped Badass: Sol-Leks may be blind in one eye, but that doesn't make him any weaker!
- Kick the Dog: Starve the dog, shun the dog, bite the dog...
- Lemony Narrator
- Mercy Kill: Dogs which are too tired or hurt to work get this treatment.
- Noble Savage: Buck becomes the canine equivalent of this at the end of the book.
- Old Shame: Charlton Heston once said that the adaptation he starred in was the worst film he ever did.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Buck goes on one after John Thornton is killed.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Curly.
- The Power of Love: Buck's relationship with John Thornton.
- Too Dumb to Live: Hal, Charles, and Mercedes.
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Spitz is the canine equivalent of this