The Call of the Wild

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A dog and an "experienced wheeler” on the mail run sled dog team, he instructs Buck in how to be a sled dog. Dave has an unaggressive, solitary, and brooding manner, but his main characteristic is his unwavering devotion to his work in the traces. He becomes ill on the trail to Dawson and is shot out of mercy by the Scotch half-breed.

Dave Quotes in The Call of the Wild

The The Call of the Wild quotes below are all either spoken by Dave or refer to Dave. 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 2 Quotes

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.


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Chapter 4 Quotes

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.

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Dave Character Timeline in The Call of the Wild

The timeline below shows where the character Dave 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
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
...ship called the Narwhal. On board, François and Perrault acquire two more dogs, Spitz and Dave. At sea, Spitz steals some of Buck's food, but François whips Spitz before Buck can... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Law of Club and Fang
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
...level of a working animal. But he embraces his work obediently and quickly learns from Dave and Spitz how to work in traces. Upon returning to camp, he knows to stop... (full context)
The Pursuit of Mastery Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
...The team breaks camp for Dyea Ca–on—Spitz in the lead, followed by Sol-leks, Buck, and Dave in the rear. Situated between Dave and Sol-leks, Buck receives "instruction" in dog sledding. They... (full context)
Chapter 4: Who Has Won to Mastership
The Man-Dog relationship Theme Icon
Wild Law and Order Theme Icon
...awakens from his dream-like state to face the harsh realities of life on the trail. Dave comes down with a mysterious illness, becoming so weak that he can barely stand in... (full context)