Hongping Chen1 and Jing Chen*2
1Professor in School of Foreign Languages, North China Electric Power University, No.689 Road, North District, Baoding, Hebei, China
2Graduate Student in School of Foreign Languages, North China Electric Power University, No.689 Road, North District, Baoding, Hebei, China
Abstract: Jack London is universally acknowledged as one of the leading naturalistic writers of the 20th century. Since his novel The Call of the Wild was published, it had been regarded as a masterpiece in American contemporary literature, which also had great effects on literature and social values. Not only the novel is a masterpiece in literature, but also it suggests the sound of resistance of people at that time. In the novel, The Call of the Wild, the author has adopted a more complex way to analyze the unreasonable social phenomena, and this statement is not through the description of social unrest or conflict of rights but more focuses on the individual performance in front of the social or natural power forced to passive choice, self adjustment of the journey. This paper, firstly, will briefly introduce the writer Jack London and The Call of the Wild .The second part, Foucault’s Power Theory will be explained. The third part, under the guidence of Foucault’s Power Theory, combined with the convert of Buck’s living condition, analyzes and discusses the figure change of Buck. Finally, the conclusion is that disciplinary power exists everywhere. Whether they are animals or people, they will be disciplined by the disciplinary power. Under the power, the society will become more and more harmonious.
Keywords: The Call of the Wild; Power Theory; disciplinary power
This paper is aimed at studying literature, especially the British and American literature among the 19th century to the 20th century. At that time, the impacts of Darwin’s evolutionary theory on American thought and the influence of the 19th century French literature on the American men gave a rise to another school of Realism: American Naturalism. Thus, the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest and natural selection became the key words on people’s brains. More and more new writers were appeared following the appearance of many new thoughts. Darwin’s thought is the main ideology of Darwinism. Darwinism mainly includes the the origin of species. People can adapt to survive well in a harsh environment after the natural selection. At the beginning of 19th century, Jack London was the most famous writer among all writers. Jack London’s The Call of the Wild is a story of a dog that is decivilized into a leader of a wolf pack. To some extent, The Call of the Wild describes also a legend of human beings as well. Jack London shows a dramatic tableau of the dark days. For London, there is actually no essential difference between man and animals since they both must abide by the law of the survival of the fittest. The dog protagonists can actually be regarded as “men in fur”. In order to have a place in the society, one must learn to kill or he will be killed. Before Buck was sent to the North, Buck belonged to Judge Miller. After it was abducted and sold to the North, he became a member of sled dogs pulling a sled. During the period of pulling a snow-sled, he learned to fit in the law of nature and follow his master. Finally, he found his natural instincts were returned, which made himself survive through the hard environment. It reflects that the call of the wild. Human being or animals, whether in the nature or society, are ruled by the power. Power exists in everywhere, no one can get rid of it. In today’s highly competitive society, the outcome is in a flash, which causes the human can’t breath and hesitate. Buck, as a dog, is a product of human civilization, but the author gives it a strong and indomitable will just as a human. Buck is also an embodiment of wisdom and courage. Such an complicated nature gives the readers a profound impression.
In this article, combining with the historical background of the society at that time, Buck refracted the experience of the America’s social power relations and the role of power. Foucault said the power has production, which clearly
reflected in the discipline of power. Disciplinary power to the prisoners from the prison of the transformation, the barracks in shape of a qualified soldier, to train a skilled workers at the factory, to the student in the school, etc., which generally displays the power of the function of the productive and creative. Standardization of ruling and inspection techniques, such as docility the body, produced conform to the specifications object, knowledge and discipline; it stimulated the activity, not imprisoned the activity; it induced the ideas, not imprison the thought; caused the words, words were not interrupted. Revealing the Foucault's power theory is to emphasize group (such as class) at the mercy of the relationship between the transcendence of traditional concept of power relations. People can make use of Foucault’s Power Theory to transform society, people, etc.
A Brief Introduction of the book and the writer Jack London
In this chapter, the author introduces the main content of the book The Call of the Wild and gives a brief introduction to Jack London.
1.1 A Brief Introduction to Jack London
Jack London is universally acknowledged as one of the leading naturalistic writers of the 20th century. Born in a humble family in San Francisco on January 12, 1876. He was deserted by his father, and brought up in Oakland by his mother Flora Welman and his step mother John London.London’s childhood was filled with bitterness. With very limited formal schooling, he educated himself in the public libraries. Poverty made a strong-willed and courageous man out of London. Passion and restlessness were in his blood. 1900 was a turning point in London’s literary career. In this year, he published The Son of the Wolf , his first collection of short stories about the brutal life in Yukon. It won him immediate success. Jack London was a prolific writer who wrote about 50 novels in his writing life. It included that a series of tales, sea adventures, novels and plays. The best ones are The Call of Life, The Sea-Wolf, White Fang, and Martin Eden. Fighting is for survival: Jack London’s exploration of the value of life. He demonstrates the strength of survival instinct in “Love life” to the people. The life of Jack London’s self-alienation of consciousness. He believes in the philosophy of Nietzsche’s Superman, in addition to believe in Marxism and socialism, which causes his thought is full of contradictions and follows a variety of troubles in real-life plague: relatives’ and friends’ indifference, “the wolf homes” was burned, the bankruptcy of his own painstaking ideals, there are too many strong sense of tragic consciousness in Jack London’s life.
1.2 A Brief Introduction to The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild is Jack London’s most meaningful and famous book. The Call of the Wild was published in 1903, and it is Jack London’s most pinup book. And The Call of the Wild is generally considered as his best book and the masterpiece in his early period. The Call of the Wild is often grouped as a children’s book, which is suitable for 6 to 18 years old due to the hero of this book is a dog. But it contains numerous plots of cruelty and violence. After he finished The Call of the Wild, Jack London’s another book White Fang was published in 1906. It is a subordinate novel with much similar scenes and themes as The Call of the Wild. Those two books are very attracted and popular among children.
The Call of the Wild mainly tells a story about a domestic dog and the dog named Buck. Before Buck became a sled dog, Buck lives a happy life in Judge Miller’s big family. His mother is Scottish shepherd and his father is the great St. Bernard dog. So Buck has good genes from his descent parents. And he gets good education under the training of Judge Miller. Buck can walk freely in Judge Miller’s big house. He also can go swim with Judge Miller’s sons and go walk with his daughters. What’s more, he often put Judge’s grandchildren in his back and plays games with them. But nothing in the world is true. Buck never thought about he would be stolen by Judge’s greener. Buck was sold to a pair of French businessmen. From that time, Buck’s life changed a lot, which is very different from his life in Judge’s family. Buck’s natural characters come back following a series of experiences, which caused him worked as a sled dog in the North during the period of American Gold Rush. And in that time, sled dogs were numerously needed. Some people were crazy about stealing domestic dogs to get a good price from businessmen. At the beginning of his life in the wild, Buck didn’t adopted to the harsh environment and there have no warm place to sleep. But he quickly learned a way to keep warm which is that put his body under the snow. Buck often felt upset and wanted to get back to Judge’s family. But he couldn’t. After a long period, Buck began to struggle with those sled dogs and be the king. He learned much experience in the wild. He became a wolf in reality. The story of Wang Fang is very different from The Call of the Wild ,which tells a story about a gray wolf and finally became a training dog. Life is full of cruelty. Though Buck is very brave and cunning, he shows great grateful for his benefactor. The movie The Call of the Wild was released and the TV series was put .
Although The Call of the Wild is a book about a dog, it also has important effects on human beings. Buck’s spirits have inspired a lot of people and taken a good example for young people. Life changes fast. No one can know what will happened in their lives. So people need to learn to be stronger and have powerful willingness. For life, everyone should love life. Everyone should be aware of “ All men must die”, so people need to cherish their short life and make it meaningful.
2. An Introduction to Foucault’s Power Theory
Power is the main thought of Michel Foucault. Foucault’s Power Theory is one of the most talked about topic in the academic circle for many years.
2.1 A Brief Introduction to Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a French philosopher, historian, social theorist, and philologist. Michel Foucault’s power analysis has great influence on the process of history, sociology, philosophy, sociology and literary criticism. Disciplinary Power is one of his best-known Power Theory, which plays a important part on social structures.
His works include The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences; Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, and Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel. The tremendous impact that the Foucauldian ideas embedded in this scientific milieu have had, and still have, upon accounting, management and organization literature is witnessed by a number of relevant studies which are near to impossible to list. In such a way, power is strengthened to protect the civilized world. Power shows that how it is far from weighing upon world with its rules and laws. In another way, power actually facilitates the progress of society and history. With the increasing of the forces of power, instead of expropriating them or hindering them, it is able to increase those of society. Foucault’s work was “dark and pessimistic”, but that it did leave some room for optimism, in that it illustrates how the discipline of philosophy can be used to highlight areas of domination.
Many critical theorists were encouraged by Foucault’s explanations on power and discourse, who believe that Michel Foucault’s study of power mechanisms could demonstrate the struggle against unfair. They claim that through Foucault’s power and discourse study were very useful and meaningful. The leadship is legitimate. By means of studying the corresponding fields of knowledge, the leadship was revealed and queried. In this way, Foucault’s work is demonstrated that is linked to critical theory.
2.2 An Introduction to Foucault’s Power Theory
Foucault’s conception of power is unique in that time. On the basis of his critical analysis of all kinds of power theories, approaches power issues in a relative perspective, using methods of fragmentation, discontinuity, and diversity developed out of theories of post- modernism. He regards power as a kind of relationship, network, and field, arguing that power is subjectless and decentralized. His emphasis is on such power characteristics as dispersion and plurality. Using his micro-power theory, Foucault deconstructs the traditional macro- power theory built around the central concept of ruling power. With the concept of disciplinary power, he formulates a model of power technology theory and describes how the modern society exercises domination and control overits citizens through such ways of standardizing as supervision, examination and administration.
In the first instance, there is an exceptional circumstances: if people fight an special evil, power network will be shifted. Power makes itself exist in here and there, and it produces new control mechanisms; it separates, it fixes, it splits. On the one hand, it consists of a counter-city and the perfect society and it impels an ideal function. However, one that and death: one kills that which moves, and it moves brings death, and . On the other hand, the cell must be understood as a inductive model of functioning. It is a way to defining power networks on the basis of the daily life of men. It will apparently circle back over that material which seems to have a special fascination for Foucault: the gradual emergence of medicine as an institution, the birth of political economy, demography and linguistics as “human sciences”, the invention of incarceration and confinement for the control of the “other” in society (the mad, the libertine, the criminal) and that special violence that lurks beneath the power to control discourse.
Stokes claimed, we are able to understand how we are being dominated and strive to build social structures that minimise this risk of domination.In all of this development there had to be close attention to detail; it is the detail which eventually individualises people. Foucault explained that his work was less about analysing power as a phenomenon than about trying to characterize the different ways in which contemporary society has expressed the use of power to “objectivise subjects.” These have taken three broad forms: one involving scientific authority to classify and ‘order’ knowledge about human populations. A second, and related form, has been to categorise and ‘normalise’ human subjects (by identifying madness, illness, physical features, and so on). The third relates to the manner in which the impulse to fashion sexual identities and train one's own body to engage in routines and practices ends up reproducing certain patterns within a given society.
In 2007, Foucault was listed as the most cited scholar in the humanities by the ISI Web of Science among a large quantity of French philosophers, the compilation’s author commenting that "What this says of modern scholarship is for the reader to decide and it is imagined that judgments will vary from admiration to despair, depending on one’s view”.
3. An Analysis of Buck’s Two different Lives Based on Foucault’s Power Theory
In this chapter, under the guidance of Foucault’s power theory, the author aims to analyze Buck’s two different lives with cases.
3.1 Buck’s life in Judge Miler’s Family: Domestic Dog
Before Buck became a sled dog, Buck lived in Judge Miller’s big family. Surrounding the house, there were many gardens and fruit trees and a river behind of it. In the Judge Miller’s family, of course, there were many different kinds of dogs. There were door-keep wolves and farm dogs. However, they were not important. Buck was a chief dog because he was born here and he took charged of those dogs. His father is the great St. Bernard dog, and his mother is a Scottish shepherd. So Buck has good genes and his genes cannot let him do uncivilized things. Excellent descent and race given Buck intelligent and witty character, excellent gene created a Buck's unique and outstanding.
Michel Foucault thinks that Discipline is a kind of power practice, which contains training, discipline, restriction, regulation and control. To achieve the goal of the control of body by disciplining the flesh. From Michel Foucault’s point of view, school, factory and cell are the important training institutions. In those places, Disciplinary Power forms a top-down relationship network by regulation and discipline. Buck learned to behave well and tried to cater to the whole Judge Miller’s family. Everything that he did was to follow the rules in the Judge Miller’s family. Buck, whether his gene or his training in Judge Miller’s family, was always under the control of invisible power.
In Judge Miller’s family, Disciplinary Power works out by a top-down power networks. Buck was neither house-dog nor kennel-dog. The whole territory was his. During the four years in Judge Miller’s, since his puppyhood had lived the life of a sated aristocrat; he had a fine pride in himself, and was ever a trifle egotistical. Among the terriers he stalked imperiously, and Toots and Ysabel he utterly ignored. For he was king, he took charged over all creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller’s place, human included. Only it is in around, the Fox dog dare not take reckless actions; only it is in around, the manor is in order. He often went swimming with Judge Miller’s sons and go walk with his daughters. He put Judge’s grandchildren on his body and played games with them as well. And he often sat at Miller’s feet in front of the fire in winter. Buck led a happy life in the human society. Buck are under the control of the rule.
Judge Miller’s family brought Buck up, so Buck was trained and regulated under the expectation of Judge Miller. Buck needed to follow the Judge’s willingness and the rules of the family. And he must behave well, otherwise, he also would be punished. Discipline of Power just like a net spreading the whole social structure. Buck lost himself in it, and tried to make himself adapt to the power. Buck was born with the character, became ruler, between the lines expressed his hopes for a better future. And Buck gets well-cared and it gradually learns the rules in the Judge’s family. It is under the control of those rules and tries to regularize itself.
In a human leading world, Discipline of Power exists in everywhere. The goal of discipline is not only to achieve a very effective deterrent, but also to strengthen the conqueror’s leading position and the ruler’s subordinate position. Buck becomes a docile dog, no longer randomly eats the master and neighbor's chicken in the principle scope, does not bully the micro-organism, does not fight with other dogs. It is in good manners and behaves like a gentleman. The Judge likes him and would like to train it. It is full of aspiration, ideals, loving sports and agile. In terms of physiological and psychological, the image of Buck is unique, he is not an ordinary dog, but rather a sledge dog with a half-wolf and a half-dog genes. The author of a half-half the origin of the canine wolf characteristics as the image of the bar is a threshing across the human and a wolf in both groups of life forms, and it is a natural and social dual attributes of human image in disguise.
Man comes from nature, but later alienated from the original home, and established a new paradise - society, and living in it. There is a circle fence to society, human and nature are isolated, and “never in contact with each other”. This wall is gorgeous and splendid. People took a proud name for it, called “civilization”. The wolf was captured by humans and brought into the civilized society to become a dog. Therefore, the half-wolf and half-dog Buck, it became a symbol of human hovering between nature and society.
3.2 Buck’s Life in the Wild: Sled Dog
In the novel, the life experience of big dog Buck is very tortuous. It is in the judge’s family lived a noble life of the dog, constantly changing. This change is not only reflected in the environment of life, but also reflected the attitude of the master of it. When Buck is stolen by his master’s gardener to settle some gambling debts, Buck passes through a sequence of owners representing the highs and lows of humanity.
“Answers to the name of Buck”, the man soliloquzied, quoting from the saloon——keep’s letter which had announced the consignment of the crate and contents. “Well, Buck, my boy”, he went on in a genial voice, “we’ve had our little ruction, and the best thing we can do is to let it go at that. You’ve learned your place, and I know mine.Be a good dog and all will go well and the goose hang high.Be a bad dog, and I’ll whale the stuffin out you.Understand?”(p20)
The discipline of the flesh always accompanies with the mechanism of punishment. The combination of punishment and discipline produces a set of control system. Michel Foucault said, in the monarchy, punishment is ritual principalities. It uses the ritual symbol of revenge to punish the body of prisoner. The power of punishment is physicality, the compulsion and the hiding. Due to the institutionalization and stratification of the punishment power, the main body not only gets punishment, but the mind also suffers the discipline. Confronted with the harsh living environments, Buck was not subjected to fate. After it was sold by dog dealers, resisted over and over again, until it was beaten unconsciously. Though he was beaten, he did not fall down. Once for all, he saw that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and in all his following life，and he never forgot it. That club was a inspiration. It was his introduction to the government of primitive law. And he met the introduction half-way. The facts of life took on a fiercer aspect; and while he faced that aspect not to be attracted, he faced it with all the potential cunning of his nature was aroused. The aim of flesh punishment is to control those dogs well.
Michel Foucault’s early work is based on the genealogy to criticize the Western culture, and he also criticizes the the main body of power and reveals the forming of the main body under the power in the history of epilepsy and history of punishment. In his late work History of Sexual Experience, Michel Foucault began to criticize the power and the body in the way of politics and he proposes returning of the power of life. Michel Foucault points out: human is free and rational; and people in the nature needs to pay more attention to themselves. That is to say, in the society, people explore, reshape, care and return to self. Buck beated Mainz, the lead dog, it wanted to be the leader, but he stood in the leading position with winner’s smile. After Buck being the leader of the dogs, Buck began to rectify the dogs and led those dogs break the transmission record. He was no longer the dog who was living a leisure life in the Judge Miler’s family, while he became the wolf who was very strong and full of wildness.
Under the power and violence, Buck would rather die than surrender in defiance of the persecution of it, fully demonstrated the buck the injustice of the society of human being’s rebellious spirit. Buck need to master different kinds of living skills, which is aimed at adapting to the cold and wild environment. Buck, in a harsh environment, tried to fit the environment and released his wildness. Though it didn’t like the domestic dog any more,Buck became strengthful and energetic. The nature forced it to recall its nature. So every one of us is a natural and social unity, we can only say that a certain aspect is the upper hand, but it is not the other side completely disappeared. Buck is a hero serving as a symbol of all living creatures that have to observe different laws in different environments.
Michel Foucault points out: men are free and rational (people can become a rational man freely) and men should pay attention to the existence of ego. However, paying attention to ego is not a individual practice.It is a real social practice. That is to say, in the social practice, people explore, reshape, care and return to self actively. Confronted with the mighty control of human and the fierce competition of dog’s world, at the beginning, Buck chooses to obey the dealer’s regulation because he needed to survive. But after he learned more skills to survive well, he began to strive for more power and fought with other dogs. In the wild, Buck learned from his precious experience and his natural instincts return again. The domesticated generations fell from him. In the process of getting rid of government, repression and resistance always exists in the relationship between the human and Buck and Buck and other dogs, which forms a dynamic and tensive process. Resistance becomes a very important practice for Buck. In the resistance, the self-awareness of Buck recovered and reshaped the independence of Buck. Buck achieved the independence of power, which is the key factor for Buck’s free.
The Call of the Wild is the most famous novel written by Jack London. In this novel, Jack London depicts the story of a powerful dog called Buck, which happened in the Gold Rush Times when a great number of people came to Alaska to find gold. It tells people how Buck learns to struggle and strive, and how his wildness is aroused. By narrating Buck’s experience, Jack London shows people some of the temporary social characters the indispensable struggle for mastery and the nature of human being wild etc. It reflects the major thoughts of that time. This essay will analyze this theme: the indispensable struggle for mastery. From the story, at first, people may misunderstood it as a dog tale. Buck, a dog, is forced to leave his comfortable life in Judge Miller’s family and he was sold to a pair of French businessmen as a sled dog for the North gold rush. When he bears the wilderness and the other dogs, Buck learns that survival comes only with fight and struggle. This serious lesson let him become very close to his forbears, the wolves. If you look deeper, The Call of the Wild is as much a story of humans as it is a dog tale. Buck encounters various incompetent masters who try to break his spirit. Are we like this? But Buck also learns to trust a master who is gentle and gives love. Human being can be like this, too. The Call of the Wild is not a story for the squeamish or very young. By involving us in the characters' lives, Jack London tells the truth. It is a life-and-death war between the harsh land and the soul every day. There is blood, death, cruelty, but it’s the truth. What projects The Call of the Wild towards immortality is London’s urgent and vivid style, and his astonishing identification with the world he's describing. His capacity to involve his readers in his story, regardless of literary subtlety, is what many generations of American writers became inspired by. For this alone, he deserves to be remembered.In school, students will accept the education of teachers.The teacher tell their students what they can do and what they cannot do. People learn the social civilization and gradually become a person with good manners and obey the social rules.In family,under the guidance of our parents, the children also need to follow the power and discipline of parents. Only in this way, people can have a better life and be a excellent man with good personalities. In nature, everyone belongs to the nature, not alone. When people do some activities, they must obey the natural laws and get well along with the nature. No one can defy the power of nature.
After analyzing The Call of the Wild, the writer of this paper draws the conclusion that the survival of the fittest. Only people who are constantly adjusting themselves with the change of environment can live better.So when people in different environment, they will be subjected to the power of the environment, and will become a different person in different environment.
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