Anthropomorphism, or the ‘call of the wild’, is a powerful metaphor in the novel Call of the Wild. While London does not explicitly state that a character should be human, he does suggest that he might be if the right circumstances are present. But the character Buck is not entirely an anthropomorphic character. He is also a narrator who often hears the ‘call of the wild.’
“Call of the Wild” by William London uses the literary technique of anthropomorphism to make animals resemble humans. For example, Buck, a privileged dog, was shipped to Alaska during the Gold Rush, where he was mistreated by numerous owners. The law of the club and fang governs life in Alaska. Throughout the novel, Buck develops a love of the law, and learns to respect and protect his owner.
The cognitive mechanisms that underlie anthropomorphic interpretations of nonhuman entities have not been studied in detail, but recent efforts have focused on motivational underpinnings of such thinking. While these mechanisms are not fully understood, they have significant implications for animal welfare and conservation. Moreover, some of these mechanisms are based on the brain’s social network, which suggests differential activation between physical and social networks.
As Haraway and Cheney point out, anthropomorphism involves the attribution of human form to nonhuman entities, and is often false. In this book, the phenomenon is particularly prominent, and it is also a consequence of the inherently anthropocentric nature of human language. Moreover, problematic language can have a provocative value, such as in the case of Cheney’s discussion of the ‘watchfulness’ of rocks.
While we do not directly identify a specific animal or plant as an “ecologically superior” form of another, our ability to recognize and associate with them has a positive impact on our ability to successfully hunt and domesticate the animal. Ultimately, we are better off to preserve both plants and animals in their natural habitats. By understanding the psychological mechanisms behind anthropomorphism, we can better protect our ecosystems.
The author uses anthropomorphism in The Call of the Wild to enable the reader to connect with the animals and relate to them. Through this process, readers can identify with Buck and become a part of his journey. They can relate to Buck’s experiences and picture themselves in his shoes. By doing this, the story makes them more human-like and, ultimately, more relatable. Anthropomorphism in The Call of the Wild analysis becomes more relevant as it draws on the author’s use of animal language.
The mental representations derived from anthropomorphism conform to a model of iterative reprocessing. Early evaluations are driven by implicit cognitive mechanisms, while more detailed representations emerge in reflective processes. These are domain-general mechanisms, whereas explicit mechanisms require conscious control. Further, they appear only late in ontogeny. And even then, they can only be limited by working memory capacity.