In literature, many writers have used imagery to help the reader to sense the surroundings in the story. It gives an appeal to all of the senses and can be very important to use in order to make a good story. Jack London wrote many of these types of descriptions, which is part of the reason why his writings are a success. He used similes and metaphors in various locations to help add to this descriptive writing technique. In the book, “Call of the Wild,” there are numerous sections where he seems to have brought the Alaskan wilderness and survival to life. One place in the book which has a lot of imagery in it is when the wild dogs attacked the camp, found on page 27. It mostly contains the sense of sight, like when it says, “It seemed as though their bones would burst through their skin,” and “They were mere skeletons, draped loosely in dragged hides, with blazing eyes and slavered fangs.”
It also had a lot of imagery dealing with sound, when it says, “The din was frightful,” “snapping like a demon,” and “crunched down through the bone.” The last one mentioned may also give the sense of touch to the atmosphere as well. Some other places where it gives this feeling are as it describes, “his head and shoulders were ripped and slashed,” and “sprayed with blood when his teeth sank through the jugular.” The sense of taste comes in when it states, “The warm taste of it [blood] in his mouth goaded him to greater fierceness.” All of these descriptions help give the feeling of danger and huge fighting taking place. More of this type of imagery can be found on page 77 when Buck saved John Thornton from the rapids. Examples of the sense of sight are when it says, “a ledge of barely submerged rocks jutted out into the river,” and “flying downstream in a current as swift as a mill-race.”
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This section mostly contains sound imagery, like when saying, “The suck of the water as it took the beginning of the last steep pitch was frightful,” and “From below came the fatal roaring where the wild current went wilder.” This section also contains a lot of the sense of touch, as it describes, “sprayed by the rocks which thrust through like the teeth of an enormous comb,” and “scraped furiously over a rock, bruised across a second, and struck a third with crushing force.” There didn’t seem to be any imagery dealing with taste or smell. The sense of sound was important in this section because it was needed to describe the rapid waters, and the sense of touch was needed because it gave the reader a better idea of what the dogs and people went through.
A final place in the book, though not the last, where there is much imagery is on page 84 when Buck pulled the 1,000 pounds of flour on a sled. This contained mostly the senses of sound and touch; because of the cracking of the snow with the movements of the sled, and the great efforts made by Buck to pull the sled. The type of imagery dealing with sound is mentioned when it says, “sharp in the tense silence,” “The load quivered, and from under the runners arose a crisp crackling,” and “A cheer began to grow and grow, which burst into a roar.” Examples of sight are when it says, “swung to the right,” “a plunge that took up the slack and with a sudden jerk,” and, “the sled pivoting and the runners slipping and grating several inches to the side.” The sense of touch is described as well, when it says, “tightening the traces with a jarring lunge,” and, “muscles writhing and knotting like live things under the silky fur.” Again, there was no apparent place where taste or smell was described.
In this story, there were many places where imagery was described. These are only a few of the numerous examples that can be found. The imagery helped because it gave the reader a perfect idea of what was going on, and it is next to the best way of actually being there. Similes and metaphors were used to help with describing the surroundings. What also seemed to help was that London wrote it with a sense of time as well. The tensest spots of each description seemed to have slight pauses in them, to relate to what it would really be like. This occurred when telling how buck pulled the sled inch by inch in the last example mentioned. The excellent imagery in this story has helped to make it a great book that everyone has enjoyed over the years.