The Call of the Wild Quotes

"But Buck did not read the newspapers, and he did not know that Manuel, one of the gardener's helpers, was an undesirable acquaintance." (Narrator, Chapter 1, p.3)

Buck is a dog living a charmed life on the estate of Judge Miller, during the time of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. He is the king of all the animals on the estate and as such enjoys special privileges, such as the run of the estate and the admirable position of being the Judge's favorite dog.

This all ends the day he accompanies Manuel on a walk through the orchard to a flag station, where Manuel sells him to a stranger. Manuel sells Buck, because he has gambling debts he needs to pay and a family to support.

This one act changes Buck's life irrevocably. It is the catalyst for the rest of the story about Buck and his transformation from domestic pet to wild animal.

"He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken." (Narrator, Chapter 1, p.10)

Buck ends up in the hands of the man in the red sweater. It is this man's job to break in the dogs, to make them worth their purchase price. He does this by using a club to beat the dogs into submission.

Buck is not an easy dog to control, which he shows by coming at the man again and again, until he literally cannot stand up anymore. The man tells Buck the two of them will get along, if Buck is an obedient dog.

What the man in the red sweater does not realize is the determination and grit of Buck. He allows himself to be controlled by the man. He still has his heart and desire to live and fight within him, but he chooses to go along with the man's demands, so he will no longer be subjected to his club. For Buck has learned his first lesson of his new life, which is the man with the club is in control and must be obeyed. This does not mean Buck needs to show him any loyalty or affection, he just needs to follow the rules and stay alive.

"They were savages, all of them, who knew no law but the law of club and fang." (Narrator, Chapter 2, p. 14)

Buck is on the Dyea beach in a land, which is as foreign to him, as the moon is to someone on Earth. He experiences snow for the first time and he is put in with dogs, who behave in a manner which he has never experienced before in his lifetime. These dogs act more like wild animals than like domesticated pets, as evidenced by the death of Curly.

Curly is a dog, who is purchased from the man in the red sweater at the same time as Buck. She is a sweet dog, whose disposition makes her an easy target for these rougher dogs. She tries to make friends with one of the dogs, only to be physically attacked by him. He tears part of her face open and then comes at her to finish her off. A group of approximately forty dogs form a circle around the two to watch the fight and then, when it becomes apparent Curly is down and not getting up, they pounce and finish her off.

During this melee FranÒ«ois, Buck's driver, comes at the pack of dogs with his club. He and some other men use their clubs to disperse the animals. Buck never forgets the scene, using it as a lesson of how to survive in his new home. He now realizes he needs to live using a different moral code, the code of the fang and the club.

"Buck stood and looked on, the successful champion, the dominant primordial beast who had made his kill and found it good." (Narrator, Chapter 3, p. 40)

Buck, by this point in the book, has become as wild a dog, as those he saw the first day he arrived at Dyea beach. He remembers the way Spitz, the lead dog on the sled team, laughed and licked his chops at the death of Curly. Spitz, for his part, always sees Buck as the one dog, who can challenge his authority over the rest of the dog team. Spitz is always trying to goad Buck into a fight, but Buck instead causes dissention among the other dogs. This way he never directly confronts Spitz, but he makes his leadership more difficult to maintain.

Then one day during a rabbit chase the two dogs finally fight to the death. Spitz, the more seasoned fighter, thinks he can finish off Buck once and for all, but he does not count on Buck's intelligence. Buck comes after Spitz in a fashion he is not used to and by doing so breaks two of Spitz's legs, which leaves him vulnerable to the other dogs. They pounce and finish him off, which gives Buck a sense of accomplishment. Buck feels he has avenged Curly and all the other dogs Spitz bullied. But more than that, Buck, after this fight becomes the lead dog of the team.

"' If you strike that dog again, I'll kill you,' he at last managed to say in a choking voice." (John Thornton, Chapter 5, p.68)

Buck is saved from being beaten to death by John Thornton. Buck and the rest of the team are being starved and beaten by Hal, a young man who has no idea of how to run a sled team. His only way of making the dogs obey him is to whip and club them.

On this day, Buck knows, because of the spring thaw, it is too dangerous to take the team on the ice, so he refuses to get up. Hal beats him until the dog is almost dead, that is when John Thornton steps in and forces Hal to give him up. Unfortunately, Buck is right and Hal, the dogs, and two other people with them drown, after the ice gives way beneath them.

"Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time." (Narrator, Chapter 6, p. 125)

Buck never knew love for any of his masters. He was devoted to Judge Miller and Perrault, who was his second owner, but he did not love them. He loves John Thornton and will do anything the man asks of him. He will also protect him from any threat, which includes attacking a man, who attacked John, rescuing John from drowning in a river, and winning a bet for John.

"Buck was wildly glad. He knew he was at last answering the call, running by the side of his wood brother toward the place from where the call surely came." (Narrator, Chapter 7, p. 92)

Buck has been hearing a call to go into the forest and run among the animals and woods. One day, he finds himself face to face with a wolf, who is unsure of Buck's intentions. At first the two are tentative towards each other, but they realize neither wants to harm the other and they become fast friends, even brothers. Buck is happy to be free and running wild with his new friend, in the place which has been calling him.

This relationship, in the future, saves Buck, when he has an encounter with his wood brother's pack, which could have turned deadly for Buck. Instead, Buck fought off the aggressive wolves, until they give up trying to take him down. It is then his wood brother comes forward from the pack, realizing he knows Buck. It is this pack, which Buck joins, after the death of John Thornton.

"For the last time in his life he allowed passion to usurp cunning and reason, and it was because of his great love for John Thornton that he lost his head." (Narrator, Chapter 7, p.100)

Buck has returned to camp to find John, his partners Hans and Peter, and the dogs all dead. The Yeehats have raided the camp, to steal the gold the men have worked so hard to accumulate. Buck is overcome with grief and anger. He strikes out at the celebrating Yeehats, tearing their throats out and chasing them into the woods, killing as many as he can. He is lost without the one man he ever truly loved.

"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." (Narrator, Chapter 7, p.102)

Buck after killing the Yeehats and scattering the survivors, Buck hears the wolves as they move closer to the camp. He welcomes the chance to join them, because all that has tied him to the world of man has been broken with the death of John Thornton.

The wolves are not as friendly towards Buck as he thought they might be, but after countering their attacks, his old friend from the forest steps forward. The two remember each other and Buck joins their pack to live out the rest of his life with them.

Related Links:

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

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