During the four years since his puppyhood he had lived the life of a sated aristocrat; he had a fine pride in himself, was even a trifle egotistical, as country gentlemen sometimes become because of their insular situation.
This quotation is from the beginning of Chapter I, “Into the Primitive,” and it defines Buck’s life before he is kidnapped and dragged into the harsh world of the Klondike. As a favored pet on Judge Miller’s sprawling California estate, Buck lives like a king—or at least like an “aristocrat” or a “country gentleman,” as London describes him. In the civilized world, Buck is born to rule, only to be ripped from this environment and forced to fight for his survival. The story of The Call of the Wild is, in large part, the story of Buck’s climb back to the top after his early fall from grace. He loses one kind of lordship, the “insular” and “sated” lordship into which he is born, but he gains a more authentic kind of mastery in the wild, one that he wins by his own efforts rather than by an accident of birth.