Buck finds his new environment extremely primitive and he is
shocked to see that survival is dependent on how well one can fight. He watches
in utter disgust as Curly, who makes a friendly overture to one of the huskies,
is rebuffed and her face is ripped open. When she attempts to ward of her
attacker, she falls to the ground and is crushed as thirty or so other huskies
join the fight. Spitz appears to enjoy the skirmish most of all and Buck begins
to hate him with a vengeance.
Shortly thereafter, Buck has his first experience at pulling
a sled. He doesn't have an easy time with it, but is quick to learn the various
commands. In addition, Spitz is the leads dog and continuously harasses Buck
with his growls. His next problem comes at night when it is time to sleep.
Being used to a warmer climate and sleeping indoors, he is at a loss as to
where to sleep. He soon realizes, after watching one of the dogs, that the
way to survive the night in this region is to dig a hole and snuggle into
it for warmth.
It doesn't take Buck too long to adapt to his new environment.
His body grows firmer and his sight and scent become keener.
Buck's entire life has changed in a matter of a few days. He must learn
to survive in the Alaskan wilderness and adapt to the hardships of Yukon life.
He realizes that the law of the Southland, from where he came, is essentially
moral and based on loving one's neighbor as much as one's self, whereas the
law of the Northland is based on survival or looking after oneself. He takes
on the characteristics of his less-civilized ancestors by becoming less domesticated
and sharpening his instincts. Even his eating habits reveal these changes.
He is becoming more wild and "wolfs" down his food as well as steals
food to satisfy his hunger.
These changes in Buck's behavior raise an interesting question of whether
they indicate development or retrogression.