The Call of the Wild

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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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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:

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"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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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“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:

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"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:

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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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
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Buck gains consciousness and realizes, from previous trips he has taken with the Judge, that he... (full context)
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In Seattle, four men unload Buck's crate. A man in a red sweater breaks it open with a hatchet. Buck launches... (full context)
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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
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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)
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Buck observes the cruel ways of the Northland and its "wolfish creatures" immediately through an "unforgettable... (full context)
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Buck receives "another shock" when François harnesses him to the traces. Having observed horses harnessed in... (full context)
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...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)
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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)
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Buck, awakened by the camp's morning stirrings breaks out of his snowy mound. The team breaks... (full context)
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On the trail, Buck develops a "ravenous" hunger, but learns to eat his food quickly so that the other... (full context)
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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
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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)
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...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)
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Buck's growing pride in his work and confidence in his inborn ability to lead drives him... (full context)
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...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)
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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
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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)
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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)