The Call of the Wild

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A one hundred and forty pound, half St. Bernard, half Scotch shepherd mix, Buck is a proud, strong, and intelligent creature. After being kidnapped from his home in Santa Clara, California, he becomes a powerful sled dog in the Canadian Klondike. As Buck goes deeper into the wilderness, he transforms from a pampered pet into a fierce animal, who ultimately masters the ways of the wild and his own fate.

Buck Quotes in The Call of the Wild

The The Call of the Wild quotes below are all either spoken by Buck or refer to Buck. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Call of the Wild published in 1990.
Chapter 1 Quotes

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 a country gentleman sometimes become because of their insular situation. But he had saved himself by not becoming a mere pampered house-dog.

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

London establishes that Buck's life is idle and easygoing--he has little to do, no food to earn. His master, a prominent judge, is gentle and prosperous, so Buck is well-treated and well-fed.

Throughout the novel, London will draws comparisons between Buck the dog and human beings. Here, for instance, London compares Buck to an aristocrat, and the comparison is more insightful than it might seem at first. Like the aristocrats of Europe, Buck has a long, warlike past--the aristocrats, after all, used to be loyal soldiers of the king, but in recent centuries, they've allowed their luxurious lifestyles to suppress their talents for war. Buck, by the same token, is a dog, meaning that he's a descendant of wild, savage wolves. Buck has the instincts for violence and fighting, but because he's lived in luxury, his instincts have been mostly suppressed.

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He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He learned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the reign of primitive lawÉ Again and again, as he looked at each brutal performance, the lesson was driven home to Buck: a man with a club was a lawgiver, a master to be obeyed, though not necessarily conciliated.

Related Characters: Buck, The man in the red sweater
Related Symbols: The Law of Club and Fang
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Buck has been kidnapped unexpectedly, and his new owners beat him with a heavy club, causing Buck great pain. Buck, who's been treated well for his entire life, isn't the least bit used to such acts of violence--he's literally never experienced them before.

The passage is important because it establishes the supremacy of violence and survival in the novel. The simple fact is that life (particularly in the Northland) is hard and full of pain--the only question, at least for Buck, is whether or not Buck will be able to overcome the pain and survive. London paints a harsh, Darwinian picture of the world, in which the strong (those who control the club) control the weak (Buck, who's been captured). Buck must learn to become more powerful and control his own environment--or he'll be killed.

"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 'll go well and the goose hang high. Be a bad dog, and I'll whale the stuffin' outa you. Understand?
Related Characters: The man in the red sweater (speaker), Buck
Related Symbols: The Law of Club and Fang
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the man who beats Buck expresses the basic law of survival that London has just shown us. The man has beaten Buck with a heavy club because Buck was being disobedient--Buck had just been kidnapped from his old home, and wasn't used to his new, harsh owners.

In essence, Buck has been living in a soft, dreamy world--a world in which there's infinite food and plentiful company. The real world, which Buck is just about to discover, is wild, dangerous, and full of violence. Buck has just discovered the basic law of the real world: know your place, or you'll be attacked for getting out of line. Buck, as a dog in a world of men, must learn to be obedient to his masters, or risk being beaten again.

One reason that London's novel--a novel about a dog--feels mature and insightful, rather than childish, is that London thinks that, on the most basic level, there's no difference between a dog and a human being. Both are just animals, trying to survive by adapting to their surroundings. Even a dog knows the law of the club--one must either master or be mastered.

Chapter 2 Quotes

He had been suddenly jerked from the heart of civilization and flung into the heart of things primordial. No lazy, sun-kissed life was this, with nothing to do but loaf and be bored. Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment's safety. All was confusion and action, and every moment life and limb were in peril. There was imperative need to be constantly alert; for these dogs and men were not town dogs and men. They were savages, all of them, who knew no law but the law of club and fang.

Related Characters: Buck
Related Symbols: The Law of Club and Fang, The Southland v. The Northland
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of Chapter 2, London clarifies everything that's happened to Buck in Chapter 1: Buck has been ripped away from his old life in California--he can longer count on food or shelter. Instead, Buck has to adapt to his new, chaotic surroundings, finding the best way to obey the "law of club and fang."

The law of club and fang is, in essence, London's interpretation of survival of the fittest. All beings in the universe are competing with each other for food and shelter--the difference is that some animals (humans, dogs) are less aware of the competition than others. In his new environment, Buck is suddenly made aware of the laws of the universe, and adapts accordingly.

Here London also contrasts town with nature, the "Southland" (California) with the "Northland" (Alaska). Because of their drastically differing environments, it's suggested, even the very morals of each place are different. In the South, there is enough warmth and food to indulge in "luxuries" like boredom, compassion, or fun. In the North, however, one must be "savage" in order to survive.

So that was the way. No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you.

Related Characters: Buck, Curly
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, a dog named Curly approaches another dog in an attempt to be friendly. Instead of responding with friendliness, the dog attacks Curly and kills her. In this way, Buck learns one basic lesson of his new environment: there's no more politeness, no more fair play. Dogs who step out of line for any reason--even their own kindness--end up dead. Buck has lived in a world where kindness and gentleness was celebrated, but now he's come to the opposite kind of environment, where hard work and toughness are paramount. (Notice that the dog who's killed in this scene is a female, suggesting that the "real world" might be easier for males, with their supposedly more violent and aggressive instincts--a common, though inaccurate interpretation of Darwin's "survival of the fittest.")

Buck had been purposefully placed between Dave and Sol-leks so that he might receive instruction. Apt scholar that he was, they were equally apt teachers, never allowing him to linger long in error, and enforcing their teaching with their sharp teethÉand ere the day was done, so well had he mastered his work.

Related Characters: Buck, Dave, Sol-leks
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Buck learns how to be a sled dog. He's taken through a crash course in running, pulling, and turning--and surprisingly, he turns out to be an excellent student, quickly mastering the basic lessons he's taught.

It's worth noting that Buck learns his lessons quickly because he's taught by Dave, an experienced dog who bites and barks whenever Buck messes up. London anticipates the psychology of "negative reinforcement" and B.F. Skinner's conditioning treatments--the best way to learn, as far as he's concerned, is through the threat of pain. Sure enough, Buck masters his skills in less than a day, thanks--it's implied--to Dave and Sol-leks.

This first theft marked Buck as fit to survive in the hostile Northland environment. It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death.

Related Characters: Buck
Related Symbols: The Southland v. The Northland
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Buck learns how to survive in the harsh new environment in which he finds himself. Buck doesn't get much food, so he has to steal other dogs' food in order to survive. Buck quickly learns that he's good at stealing without getting caught--as a result, he survives the harsh Northland instead of slowly starving to death.

London's observations about dogs might just seem like good writing, but they also contain some important insights that could be applied to human society, too. London was a committed socialist, who believed that society was wrong to punish thieves and robbers so harshly. Thieves, he maintained, weren't immoral people--they were just trying to feed themselves and survive poverty. The only true morality in life, London believed, was the law of survival. London doesn't judge Buck for thieving--just as he didn't judge thieves--instead, he seems glad that Buck is asserting his will and surviving.

And not only did he learn by experience, but instincts long dead became alive again. The domesticated generations fell from him. In vague ways he remembered back to the youth of the breed to the time the wild dogs ranged in packs through the primeval forest and killed their meat as they ran it down.Thus, as a torken of what a puppet thing life is, the ancient song surged through him and he came into his own again.

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important passage, London describes how Buck's inner instincts are awoken during his time as a sled dog. For much of his life, he's been living in luxury. Now that he's forced to work hard for his dinner, however, Buck can no longer rely on dependable masters. Instead, Buck has to rely on his instincts--instincts that are buried deep in his DNA, thanks to thousands of years of wolfish ancestry. Buck has an innate instinct to fight, to thieve, and above all, to survive. Thus London portrays him as not so much progressing, but "devolving"--returning to his original, natural state.

Buck is a survivor, first and foremost. He was initially disoriented and frightened by his new environment, but instead of giving up, he used his instincts to regain his confidence. Now, Buck seems surprisingly at ease among the other sled-dogs--he's given into his survival instincts.

Chapter 3 Quotes

The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck, and under the fierce conditions of the trail it grew and grew.

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

London is fond of beginning each one of his chapters with a quick "recap" of the chapter before--London was a serial novelist for much of his life, and needed to remind his readers what had happened in the story the previous week. Here, London shows us that the "primordial beast"--i.e., the aggregate of thousands of years of wolfish behavior--has taken over in Buck's consciousness. Buck has had experiences at a luxurious house, but these experiences don't shape his behavior remotely as much as his instincts. In effect, London is saying that a dog's behavior--and perhaps, a human's, too--is more instinct than education. Buck has to learn to adapt to his environment, but at the end of the day, he obeys one law and one law alone--the law of the club and fang. Survival is his highest priority, and everything else is a detail.

It was inevitable that the clash for leadership should come. Buck wanted it. He wanted it because it was his nature, because he had been gripped tight by that nameless, incomprehensible pride of the trail and trace—that pride which holds dogs in the toil to the last gasp, which lure them to die joyfully in the harness, and breaks their hearts if they cut out of the harness.

Related Characters: Buck
Related Symbols: The Traces
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, we see that Buck is developing a rivalry with another dog, Spitz. Like Buck, Spitz is strong and dangerous, and feels a natural instinct to be top dog in the "traces" (harness of the sled). There can only be one leader among the animals, though--thus, a clash between Buck and Spitz is inevitable.

What's the difference between Buck and Spitz? Nothing, perhaps--they're both just dogs trying to survive and master their environment. One gets the sense that London could have told his story from the perspective of any one of the dogs pulling the sled. Buck's story is particularly interesting, though, in that Buck spends the majority of his life in luxury--thus, by telling the story from Buck's point of view, London shows how strong a dog's instincts are, to the point where they overshadow its literal experiences. In the end, though, Buck and Spitz are just two dogs trying to gain power--because it's their nature.

The insidious revolt led by Buck had destroyed the solidarity of the team. It no longer was as one dog leaping in the traces.

Related Characters: Buck
Related Symbols: The Traces
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

In this fascinating section, Buck begins a subtle "revolt" against Spitz, the top dog of the sled team. Buck notices that Spitz has attacked a weaker dog named Pike. Buck cleverly defends Pike from Spitz's aggression, building loyalty between Pike (and, by extension, the other weak dogs who are afraid of Spitz) and Buck.

Buck, in short, is a good politician--he knows how to rise to power. Instead of attacking Spitz directly, he builds up a coalition against Spitz, undermining Spitz's power-base. Buck, to use some Marxist language, is the bourgeois politician, building up solidarity with the proletariat in order to defeat the social elite. While it may seem odd that a dog is playing the part of a politician, London doesn't think so at all--the path to power is almost as instinctive as survival itself.

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot riseÉand it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of beingÉ

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 22-23
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Buck has just defeated Spitz, his rival for power. Buck is a less talented and experienced fighter than Spitz, but he's successfully built loyalty between himself and the other dogs, allowing him to defeat Spitz at the last minute. Buck savors the feeling of dominance he gets from being the new pack leader.

The feeling of power Buck gets in this passage is every bit as basic as the laws of survival itself: over thousands of years, wolves have learned to vie for power over other wolves, because power is surely the best way to ensure plentiful food and shelter. Buck, one could say, is an especially powerful and power-hungry dog--he's extraordinary in the ambition he projects. As a result, he makes a good hero.

Buck stood and looked on, the successful champion, the dominant primordial beast who had made his kill and found it good.

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

Buck has just defeated Spitz, his rival for power among the sled dogs. In this passage, London reinforces Buck's victory by describing the sense of power and control that Buck feels immediately afterwards.

In a way, the passage conveys two victories simultaneously. the first victory is obvious: Buck's victory over Spitz. The second victory is subtler yet more important: the victory of Buck's savage instincts over his own domestication. Though Buck has been living a life of luxury for many years now, his strong, aggressive instincts come out quickly and exhilaratingly. Here, Buck is finally committed to his new life--a life of constant danger and fighting. Such a life might seem horrible, but Buck savors the constant, aggressive competition.

Chapter 4 Quotes

At a bound Buck took up the duties of leadership, and where judgment was required, and quick thinking and quick acting he showed himself superior even of Spitz, of whom Franois had never seen an equal.

Related Characters: Buck, Spitz, François
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

Buck is now the pack leader--the lord of the other dogs. Buck has defeated his rival, Spitz, by proving himself to be a stronger and savvier animal. Buck's victory over Spitz is surprising to Francois, the human master of the dogs, because Francois had never seen a dog stronger than Spitz.

The passage is important because it clarifies why, exactly, Buck defeated Spitz. At times, Buck seemed like a sleazy politician, manipulating the other dogs against Spitz in order to defeat him. But here, it becomes clear that the better dog has won: Buck defeated Spitz not because he was sneaky but because he was stronger and faster. In the end, Darwin is right: the fitter animal always survives.

Far more potent were the memories of his heredity that gave things he had never seen before a seeming familiarity; the instincts (which were but the memories of his ancestors become habits) which had lapsed in later days, and still later, in hum, quickened and become alive again.

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Buck moves still further into the realm of instinct and heredity. Buck has had plenty of memories, but as he proceeds with being a sled dog, he begins to think more about his ancestral memories—i.e., the experiences of the millions of wolves from whom he’s descended.

The passage offers an interesting definition of instinct: memories that have evolved into habits. Over the course of thousands or even millions of years, wolves have accumulated certain experiences that they pass down to their offspring: instincts for survival, fighting, and endurance. Buck, we know by now, is a particularly distinguished inheritor of such instincts: he feels the influence of his wolf ancestors particularly strongly.

Dave resented being taken out, grunting and growling while the traces were unfastened, and whimpering brokenheartedly when he saw Sol-leks in the position he had held and served so long. For the pride of trace and trail was his, and sick, unto death, he could not bear that another dog should do his work.

Related Characters: Buck, Dave, Sol-leks
Related Symbols: The Traces
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Dave, one of the sled dogs who originally trained Buck in how to obey orders, collapses from exhaustion—he’s gotten so old that he can no longer be a successful sled dog. And yet Dave still wants to be a sled dog—he wants to keep his spot in the traces, to continue working for his human masters, right up to the moment when they end his life with a gunshot.

The passage is equal parts noble and disturbing: Dave is the very embodiment of the wolfish instinct to fight and survive. And yet in the end, even Dave’s instincts for survival end the same way: death. There’s a tragic futility to everything the dogs do—no matter how much power they attain within the ranks of the sled, they’re still the slaves of their human masters, forced to break their bodies pulling heavy loads thousands of miles.

Chapter 5 Quotes

[Buck] had made up his mind not to get up. He had a vague feeling of impending doomÉ.What of the thin and rotten ice he had felt under his feet all day, it seemed that he sensed disaster close at hand, out there ahead on the ice where his master was trying to drive.

Related Characters: Buck
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene from the end of the chapter, Buck refuses to cooperate with his tyrannical owners. The owners want Buck and the other dogs to carry a heavy load over thin ice—in other words, they want the dogs to defy the laws of nature, in a suicidal attempt to transport their own heavy cargo. Buck, knowing full-well that he won’t survive the trek across the frozen lake (because of an instinctual "sense"), refuses to get up, and the other dogs follow his example.

Chapter 5 is important because it shows that London doesn’t just believe that the world is a brutal, violent place. Even if it’s dogs’ fate to pull sleds for humans, there’s a big difference between a just and an unjust master. Buck’s current owners’ tyranny, unlike that of their predecessors, is simply discordant with nature—it violates the natural order. As a result, Buck, listening to his natural instincts, refuses to play along. London’s novel doesn’t have any morality beyond the natural order of the universe—and yet here, he judges Hal and the other owners for violating such a natural order.

“They're lazy, I tell you, and you've got to whip them to get anything out of them. That's their way. You ask any one. Ask one of those men.”
Related Characters: Hal (speaker), Buck, The Insides
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hal complains that his dogs are lazy for refusing to cross the frozen lake bearing their masters’ cargo. In order to make an example out of the dogs, Hal chooses to whip Buck.

Hal’s speech shows how out of touch he is with his own dogs, not to mention the realities of the world. Buck knows far better than Hal what’s going on: he’s not refusing to pull the cargo because he’s lazy, but because he knows that the cargo will break through the frozen river and kill him. Even here, Buck is a fundamentally self-interested animal; he won’t do anything that he senses will endanger himself. Hal, by contrast, looks like a fool—he claims that you can “ask anyone” how lazy the dogs are, when London’s book testifies to the fact that Buck isn’t the least bit lazy, and it's also presumed that the wiser dog owners around Hal would similarly disagree with Hal's methods.

"If you strike that dog again, I'll kill you," he at last managed to say in a choking voice.
Related Characters: John Thornton (speaker), Buck, Hal
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Hal is beating Buck for refusing to cross the frozen river. As Hal beats Buck, a worker, John Thornton, intervenes and threatens to kill Hal if he hurts Buck again. The emotion of the scene is palpable: John seems to be choking as he speaks, suggesting that he’s crying because of Hal’s cruelty.

How should we understand this scene—which, unlike everything else in the book, seems to put forth a morality based on compassion and sympathy? Perhaps the reason that London shows John behaving compassionately is that he wants to contrasts John’s behavior with that of the violent, irrational Hal. Hal is a man who simply doesn’t understand how nature works—he’s about to send a heavy cargo across a thin layer of ice. John is compassionate, but he’s also smart enough to see that Buck isn’t really being lazy at all—Buck just wants to survive. London suggests that even John’s compassion is based on the principle of survival of the fittest—John protects Buck because he recognizes that Buck is smart enough to avoid the ice, and because he respects Buck’s strength and intelligence.

Chapter 6 Quotes

Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time. This he had never experienced at Judge Miller'sÉ.With the Judge's sons, hunting and tramping, it had been a working partnership; with the Judge's grandsons, aÉpompous guardianshipÉ.with the Judge himself, a stately dignified friendship. But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse.

Related Characters: Buck, John Thornton, Judge Miller
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

In Chapter Six, the novel changes directions abruptly. Buck has had many masters before, but only now does he have an ideal master—someone who genuinely loves him. London distinguishes sharply between the love Buck received in his old, luxurious lifestyle—such love, we’re told, wasn’t really based in respect or mutual appreciation. Here, however, Buck and his new owner, John, genuinely respect each other: they recognize that they’re both talented, intelligent beings, capable of surviving, and beyond that they truly enjoy each other's company.

In this passage, London outlines a kind of “ideal society.” London, a politically active thinker throughout his life, doesn’t believe that a society can ever be totally just unless the rulers and the people truly love each other: if they truly recognize each other’s abilities and work together. Buck thinks that he’s found an ideal society with John, as they work together to survive.

“As you love me, Buck. As you love me.”
Related Characters: John Thornton (speaker), Buck
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Buck prepares for a wager that will make his master, John, rich. Buck has been sent to move a thousand-pound sled—if he succeeds, John will win a lot of money. As John prepares Buck for the wager, he tells Buck to succeed if Buck loves him.

The passage is interesting because it shows the strengths and weaknesses of John and Buck’s relationship. Buck sincerely loves and even worships John, protecting him from danger and making him lots of money. The relationship is strong because John and Buck seem to genuinely respect each other—like the citizens of an ideal society, they recognize their partners’ strengths. And yet the relationship between John and Buck is totally unequal—as the quote suggests, Buck probably “loves” John more than John loves Buck. John is still very much the boss, even when Buck does all the real work.

Chapter 7 Quotes

He had killed man, the noblest game of all, and he had killed in the face of the law of club and fang.

Related Characters: Buck, The Yeehats
Related Symbols: The Law of Club and Fang
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Buck finally steps out of line and breaks the natural order, the "law of club and fang." He suspects that a group of Yeehats has killed his previous master, John. Buck, who loved John intensely, is overcome with hatred, and he attacks the Yeehats, killing some of them. Buck has never before killed a human being—he’s always been trained to obey humans at all costs, and to accept their mastery. Paradoxically, it was Buck’s love for another human being that led him to kill these humans.

Buck seems to be overcoming his natural subservience to humanity. He’s appreciated some of his previous masters, but at the end of the day, they needed him more than he needed them. Buck has been trained to obey because of the threat of violence, and because of the sense of a natural hierarchy. But now, Buck is free to be his own master—to live among other wolves instead of being exploited by humans.

It was the call, the many-noted call, sounding more luringly and compellingly than ever before. And as never before he was ready to obey. John Thornton was dead. The last tie was broken. Man and the claims of man no longer bound him.

Related Characters: Buck, John Thornton
Related Symbols: The Call
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel, London is at his most romantic and his most political. Over the course of the novel, Buck has had many different masters: metaphorical tyrants, oligarchs, democrats, etc.—some Buck has hated, others he’s loved. And yet every leader Buck ever had stole his own labor from him: Buck’s leaders imprisoned him, forcing him to work for little to no reward.

Now that Buck has no human master, he’s free to live in a utopian society of wolves. After years of having his labors stolen from him, he finally controls what he does and where he goes. In the past, Buck hungered for a human master, but now, he can get by without one. Notice that had Buck been sent into the wild immediately after leaving the Judge’s house, he would never have been happy there—he would have wanted to return home right away, and probably would have died. But because of the gradual evolution (or devolution) of Buck’s situation over the course of the novel, Buck is finally prepared to be his own master.

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Buck Character Timeline in The Call of the Wild

The timeline below shows where the character Buck appears in The Call of the Wild. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Into the Primitive
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
The narrator introduces Buck, the proud and prized pet of Judge Miller. Buck does "not read the newspapers," so... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
No other dogs equal Buck's stature as the reigning king of Judge Miller's estate. Since his birth, Buck has ruled... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
Buck's world changes when Manuel, a gardener at the estate with a liking for "Chinese lottery,"... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
Buck gains consciousness and realizes, from previous trips he has taken with the Judge, that he... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
In Seattle, four men unload Buck's crate. A man in a red sweater breaks it open with a hatchet. Buck launches... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Buck watches as other dogs are bought and sold by the man in the red sweater.... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Law of Club and Fang
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Far from the "lazy, sun-kissed life" of the civilized Southland, Buck's first day on the snowy shores of Dyea Beach is a "nightmare." He quickly senses... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Buck observes the cruel ways of the Northland and its "wolfish creatures" immediately through an "unforgettable... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Buck receives "another shock" when François harnesses him to the traces. Having observed horses harnessed in... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
...and Joe. Billee is good-natured, while Joe is sullen and mean-spirited, confronting Spitz with growls. Buck welcomes the new recruits, while Spitz thrashes Billee in retribution for Joe's belligerence. By evening,... (full context)
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Night descends upon the trail. Buck, troubled by cold and sleeplessness, attempts to enter François and Perrault's candle-lit tent, but they... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Buck, awakened by the camp's morning stirrings breaks out of his snowy mound. The team breaks... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
On the trail, Buck develops a "ravenous" hunger, but learns to eat his food quickly so that the other... (full context)
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
As Buck gains experience on the trail, he transforms physically. His senses sharpen. His body strengthens against... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Dominant Primordial Beast
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
The "dominant primordial beast" grows stronger in Buck as conditions on the trail become rougher, and his rivalry with Spitz more perilous. Buck... (full context)
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
...the skeletal huskies, while the sled dogs fight against the mad canines. Three huskies attack Buck. Slashed and ripped, Buck retaliates, biting into a husky's jugular. The taste of the warm,... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
Buck's growing pride in his work and confidence in his inborn ability to lead drives him... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
...Dawson, the team pushes onward to Skaguay. But there is unrest in the traces as Buck's insurrection continues. One night, Buck leads the pack in a rabbit hunt. Caught up in... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication to Devolution Theme Icon
The time has come for Spitz and Buck to face off. A silence falls upon the pack as they circle around the rivals.... (full context)
Chapter 4: Who Has Won to Mastership
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
The morning after the fight, Françoisnotices that Spitz is missing and that Buck is covered with wounds. He surmises that Buck has killed Spitz, but proceeds with harnessing... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
On the trail, Buck proves to be an excellent lead dog. He conducts the difficulties of the trail with... (full context)
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...time, but official orders from the government force them to depart the town, thereby leaving Buck and his team behind. François weeps over Buck as he and Perrault exit Buck's life... (full context)
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Buck awakens from his dream-like state to face the harsh realities of life on the trail.... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Toil of Trace and Trail
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...the Scotsman is called to make another delivery, he replaces them with new dogs, selling Buck and his team to Hal and Charles, a family of amateur settlers, who are "out... (full context)
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Buck distrusts his new owners, observing that they are undisciplined, disorderly, and unable to "learn." Because... (full context)
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Hal's whip and club drive Buck and his team onward, despite their exhaustion. Only five dogs remain, after Hal kills Billee... (full context)
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...thinning. Hal disregards this warning, instead whipping his dogs to get up and run. Yet Buck, overcome by an "impending" sense of "doom," refuses to rise. Hal takes up his club... (full context)
Chapter 6: For the Love of Man
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Under Thornton's care, Buck recovers. Experiencing love for the first time, Buck comes to adore and admire Thornton as... (full context)
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One day, while resting on a steep cliff, Thornton tests Buck's loyalty by commanding him to jump off its ledge. Buck starts forward, but Thornton grabs... (full context)
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Buck's devotion continues at Circle City, where Thornton gets into a bar fight with a hot-tempered... (full context)
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Buck proves his loyalty again when he saves Thornton's life later that year. During a boat... (full context)
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Buck gains even greater fame that winter in Dawson when he performs an incredible "exploit." In... (full context)
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...settling at three to one. Matthewson ups the bet six hundred dollars, and stresses that Buck must break the runners out of the ice in order for the wager to hold.... (full context)
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Thornton shouts directions at Buck to pull the sled. Straining under the traces, Buck swings to the right, then to... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Sounding of the Call
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With the money Thornton wins from the wager he sets out eastward with Buck, Skeet, Nig, Hans, and Pete, going deep into the Klondike in search of a lost... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Buck spends "long hours musing by the fire," dreaming of hunting and gathering with the caveman.... (full context)
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Buck remains by Thornton's side for two days, but grows restless, returning to the forest in... (full context)
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On the trail back to camp, Buck finds one of Thornton's dogs dying and Hans face down in the ground, dead. Seeing... (full context)
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Buck mourns over John Thornton's body but that night hears the call. The wild wolf pack... (full context)
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Buck's story morphs into legend as the Yeehats tell of a mythical Ghost Dog, who terrorizes... (full context)