The Call of the Wild Summary

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Buck, a half St. Bernard and half Scotch-Shepard dog, enjoys his life of entitlement on Judge Miller's place in Santa Clara Valley, California. This all changes one night, because the assistant gardener, Manuel, sells Buck for one hundred dollars to a man who supplies dogs to gold prospectors in the Klondike. The 1897 gold rush is on and the prospectors are determined to make their fortunes by finding gold.

After a torturous journey, Buck is handed over to the man in the red sweater. Buck is defiant and is clubbed into submission by this cruel man, whose job is to break the dogs, so they can be sold. Buck is sold to a man named Perrault, who is a courier for the Canadian government. Perrault and his driver, FranÒ«ois, take Buck, along with a dog named Curly, on the Narwhal, a ship which transports them and two other dogs to the North country. The two other dogs are Spitz, who feels due his size and experience he should be the lead dog, and Dave, a dog whose only desire is to be left alone.

Once in the North country Buck learns what snow is and he is also taught how to be part of a dog sled team. He learns another valuable lesson, which is the lesson of the club and the fang. If he steps out of line while harnessed to the sled, either the other dogs will bite him or FranÒ«ois will club him. Buck learns to live like a wolf and to work hard for the little food he is given.

Buck and Spitz become enemies, after Curly is killed by another dog. Spitz seems to enjoy watching the other dog tear Curly apart. Spitz does everything in his power to provoke Buck into a fight, but Buck, instead, instigates disorder amongst the other dogs on the team. Since Perrault and FranÒ«ois cannot prove it is Buck causing the problems, he is not punished.

One day a rabbit enters the camp and Buck decides he must catch it. He and the other dogs chase the rabbit, but Spitz takes the opportunity to capture the rabbit, which goads Buck into fighting Spitz. The two dogs fight until Buck breaks two of Spitz's legs and he is left to be killed by the other dogs, which is how an injured dog is dealt with by the other animals.

Buck is put into the lead dog position and he proves he is not only capable, but excels in this position. The sled reaches its destination in record time, which makes Perrault and FranÒ«ois very happy. It also brings attention to the team and Perrault is ordered to turn them over to a half-Scotch man, who is a mail courier. He treats the team well, but the work is grueling and Dave becomes ill from the hard work. He is no longer able to pull the sled and is put down by the half-Scotch man.

The remaining dogs return to Skaguay thinking they are going to be given a long rest, because they have traveled twenty-five hundred miles in five months. Instead they are sold to Charles and Hal, a couple of novice sled drivers from the United States. They have no idea of how to handle a dog team or how to load a sled properly. This causes delays and arguments between the two men, who are brothers-in-law. Charles is married to Mercedes, Hal's sister, who is traveling with the men. The men do not bring enough food to feed the dogs, which now number fourteen. Hal, who is put in charge of the dogs, uses the whip or club to induce the dogs to obey his commands. They pull into White River one spring day; this is where John Thornton is camping. Hal is whipping Buck, because he refuses to stand and pull the sled. He is refusing, because he has a feeling something horrible will happen if the sled is put back on the ice. John Thornton watches for a while as Hans whips Buck and then he steps in and stops Hal.

Buck and John watch as the sled and the remaining dogs set off across the ice. They soon hear and see them fall through the ice to their deaths, along with Charles, Hal and Mercedes. Buck is now totally devoted to John not only for rescuing him, but also because he nurses him back to health and treats him in a humane way. John is the only master Buck truly loves. Buck also becomes friends with John's two other dogs and together they have a good life.

Buck repays John for his kindness, by attacking a man who tries to harm John, saving John from drowning in a river, and winning a bet, which allows John and his partners to continue their quest to find a lost mine.

John and his partners look for the lost mine for over a year. Though they didn't find the mine, they did find a shallow in a valley which is full of gold. During this time Buck begins to feel the call of his ancestors, the wolves. He will go into the forest to hunt and he also makes friends with a wolf. It is after being away from camp for some days, that Buck returns to find everyone, including John, dead. They have been killed by the Yeehats, who are still at the camp. Buck, overcome with anger and grief, attacks the men and kills many of them. He then becomes part of a wolf pack and lives out his days with them. He returns every summer to the camp and howls in memory of his lost friend and master.

Buck even after all the tragedies he endures, manages to make a life for himself. He lives with wolves, after the death of John Thornton, but he never forgets the one master he loves. This is a story of survival and devotion by both humans and dogs.

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The Call of the Wild Chapters 1 - 2 Summary
The Call of the Wild Chapters 1 - 2 Quiz
The Call of the Wild Chapters 3 - 4 Quiz
The Call of the Wild Chapters 5 - 6 Quiz
The Call of the Wild Chapter 7 Quiz
The Call of the Wild Chapters 3 - 4 Summary
The Call of the Wild Chapters 5 - 6 Summary
The Call of the Wild Chapter 7 Summary
The Call of the Wild Important Characters
Literature Summaries
Jack London Facts

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