The Call of the Wild Important Characters


Buck is a half St. Bernard and half Scotch shepherd dog. He is four years old when he is sold by Judge Miller's assistant gardener, to a man who sells dogs to gold prospectors, during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Buck, while he lives with Judge Miller, is the ruler of his domain. The other dogs who live on the estate are inferior in position to Buck. This is because Buck is not only allowed to sleep at the Judge's feet, but he is also allowed to roam the estate at his leisure.

After he is sold this all changes for the worse. He is mistreated by many men, especially the man in the red sweater, who clubs Buck into submission. He can control Buck's actions, but he could not gain control over Buck's desire to live. This requires Buck to tap into his primitive self and to start living as his ancestor, the wolf, does. He learns to respect the club and the fang of man and the other dogs. The man will club him to bend him to his will, while the dogs will bite him to bend him to their will.

Buck through a series of trials, realizes he is not only able to survive the harsh conditions of the North country, but he can lead the other dogs. He becomes a capable leader, who gains the respect of both his human handlers and the dogs on his team.

After he is rescued from a harsh owner, by John Thornton, Buck finds he loves his new owner. This is a first for this dog who has had many owners and Buck is willing to do anything to keep John happy and well, including risking his own life for John.

In the end, he is torn by the call of the wild forest and its animals and his devotion to John. This conflict is resolved for him after John is killed by the Yeehats, who are after John's gold. Buck, who avenges John's death by killing as many Yeehats as he is capable of, joins a pack of wolves. It is with them he lives out the rest of his life.

Buck is a dog of incredible intelligence, loyalty, determination and stamina. He endures through all the hardships life throws at him and finally finds happiness by reverting to his primitive self.


He is the man who buys Buck from the man in the red sweater. He is a courier for the Canadian government and he treats Buck fairly. He allows Buck to become the lead dog, after Buck kills Spitz. This gives Buck the opportunity to show how well he can lead and show off his intelligence. Perrault does not engender love from Buck, but he does receive Buck's respect. Perrault is ordered to turn Buck and his team over to a mail courier, which is a sad day for Perrault and Buck. Perrault tries to be good to his dogs, while doing the job assigned to him by the Canadian government.


Spitz is a large white dog, who believes from the moment he meets Buck that he is superior to him. Spitz is friendly to the other dogs, but goes behind their backs to steal food or their sleeping nests. He is happy and excited by the killing of Curly, who is a dog Buck is friendly with and this makes him Buck's enemy.

Spitz does everything he can to try to entice Buck into a fight, but Buck will not fight him unless it is the only option. Spitz sees Buck as his direct rival for the leadership of the dog team. He is correct in this assumption; Buck does want to be the lead dog. Spitz is also a bully to the other dogs, but Buck takes it upon himself to protect the other dogs. This is also his way of causing trouble for Spitz without having to directly confront him.

After their battle to the death, Spitz is gone and Buck is given the role of lead dog. Spitz was right to fear Buck's ambition to become lead dog, his mistake was to underestimate Buck's abilities during a fight.

John Thornton

John Thornton is the man who changes Buck's life for the better. He rescues Buck from an abusive owner and for the first-time Buck feels unconditional love for a master. John is a kind man, who does not tolerate abuse of any kind towards man or animal. He is richly rewarded for his moral code by both Buck and John's partners Hans and Peter, as they are all willing to do anything John requests of them.

This is proven by Buck in three different instances. The first is during a fight in a saloon, that takes place because John comes to the aid of a man being bullied by another. Buck sees the attacker as threat to John and he assaults him, before he can retaliate against John for interfering in his bullying. Buck protects John by attempting to tear the man's throat out.

The second time occurs during the men's trek to find the lost mine. John is thrown out of a canoe into rushing water and Buck risks his life to save John's.

The third time, John makes a bet that Buck can pull a sled loaded with a thousand pounds of weight a hundred yards. Buck wins the bet for John, which gives John and his partners the money to stake their quest to find the lost mine.

Each time Buck comes through for John, he is given love and affection from John. He doesn't look at Buck as a possession, but instead as an individual who needs to be shown he is appreciated and loved.

John Thornton dies a terrible death at the hands of the Yeehats. He does not deserve such an end to his life, but Buck true to his love of his master makes the Yeehats pay for their deed.


Manuel is the man who started Buck's journey to the North by selling him. He stole him from Judge Miller, so that he can receive the money he needs to pay his gambling debts and help sustain his family. He doesn't care that he is ripping from the family a beloved pet or that he is tearing apart the only world Buck knows, as he is a man without conscious or moral code. The story of Buck's life would have been entirely different if this one act had never occurred. Then again, in some ways Buck owes Manuel a debt of gratitude, because he would have never found his primitive self if he had not been forced into these situations by Manuel's actions.

Related Links:

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

To link to this The Call of the Wild Important Characters page, copy the following code to your site: