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The Call of The Wild': The Theme of Greed

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In the unforgiving and savage north, humans commit atrocities and make unwise choices but, many of these are unknowingly orchestrated by a hunger that burns inside of all, greed. The theme of greed is a key aspect throughout the book, The Call of the Wild. Buck, a civilized dog from the south, is taken from his home and paired with the uncivilized men of the north in pursuit of the valuable yellow metal, gold. Buck is forced to grow and adapt while dealing with the greed of his human owners. Throughout this story, greed frequently appears as the true reasoning behind nearly every event such as; men taking more gold than they could carry, men going to the north in hope for riches, and John Thornton's death by the Yeehats.

Due to the discovery of gold in the north, the small flame of greed grew into a bonfire of want in the men. As stated in the book, the claiming of gold only brightened that flame; “The gold was sacked in moose-hide bags fifty pounds to the bag and piled like so much firewood outside the spruce-bough lodge.” (London pg 155). This reveals, that gold, an extraordinarily rare mineral, was as common as one of the most abundant materials in the forest, firewood. Like lumberjacks who toil until the work was completed, the men went hard to work mining and sacking the gold as if they had become a slave to greed’s unyielding grip. The insatiable hunger in these men could only be conducted by greed, like an orchestra of omnipotent famine.

The fire of greed lured men hoping to gain riches and fame by feeding this fire but in the end, they would only be scorched by the flame and be forgotten in the vast wasteland that is the North. The discovery of potential fortune ensnared these men and would not let go, this drove them to travel to the North. “Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness had found a yellow metal, [Gold] and because steamship and transportation companies were booming to the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland.” (London pg 13). This shows that even large companies shared the same greed as the men and rushed to the North all the same. The fire of greed had lured so many and continuously grew with each passing day, soon all who followed its heavenly glow would become forgotten as if their imprints upon time had faded into nothingness.

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As the fire raged further on, it attracted yet another victim, John Thornton, to its alluring flame. As John Thornton gathered the heaps and heaps of gold, the once empty valley stirred with a new life.

There was life abroad in it [the valley] different from the life which had been there throughout the summer. No longer was this fact borne in upon him [Buck] in some subtle, mysterious way. The birds talked of it, the squirrels chattered about it, the very breeze whispered of it. Several times he stopped and drew in the fresh morning air in great sniffs, reading a message which made him leap on with a greater speed. (London pg 173).

This highlights the sheer magnitude of this change, a change that John Thornton knew was going to attract unwanted visitors, but he continued to take, for greed had ensnared him in its trap and trove him to keep digging. This hoarding of the gold soon led him to a horrendous death by decapitation, all because greed lured him there, little did he know, this would be his final expedition.

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The Call of The Wild’: The Theme of Greed. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“The Call of The Wild’: The Theme of Greed.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
The Call of The Wild’: The Theme of Greed. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2023].
The Call of The Wild’: The Theme of Greed [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:
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