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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Call of the Wild, The:
Main Characters


Buck, the dog from whose perspective The Call of the Wild is told from, is a mix of St. Bernard and Scotch Shepherd dog. He is a large, muscular dog who, though he starts the novel as a pampered housedog, slowly transitions into a rugged sled dog, and eventually into a primitive, wild beast. His gradual call to the wild is the book's focus. The tale begins as Buck is stolen from an estate in the Santa Clara Valley, transported north and sold as a sled dog. As he reaches the Arctic and shuttles between owners, his transition ensues. The impetus to his change, however, is the breaking Buck receives at the hands of the man in the red sweater. It is this man who first teaches Buck the law of club and fang, and who Buck holds the greatest spite for. He may fear the club, and thus subdue to the man, but he will never let his spirit be broken. From the man in the red sweater, he is sold to Francois and Perrault, comes under the command of a Scotch half-breed, and finds himself near death while working for the hapless trio of Hal, Charles, and Mercedes. Buck's friendship with his final owner, John Thornton, provides the strongest and most loving relationship he has with any human, but still fails to keep him from the primitive life calling to him from the forest. He leaves the man for long stretches at a time, and returns a final time to find his master killed by a group of Indians. A mournful but suddenly free Buck succumbs to the inner beast inside him, and completes his transition from civilized pet to wild animal.


Curly is a female dog bought at the same time that Buck is purchases by Francois and Perrault. She makes friends with Buck during their trip to the North, but is quickly killed by Spitz once the group reaches the Arctic. Buck sadly watches her death in excruciating detail, and it is the manner in which she is killed that furthers his understanding of the law of club and fang. Curly's death is the beginning of the competition and hatred between Spitz and Buck. Her death jolts Buck into his new surroundings as he sees the death of his first friend in the Northland.


Buck's archrival and the leader of Francois' sled team, Spitz is introduced as a husky dog 'the size of a full-grown wolf'. Spitz is ruthless and unfriendly to anyone who approaches him. The first glimpse the reader gets of Spitz is as he brutally kills Curly on her arrival in the Arctic. This killing starts the rivalry between Spitz and Buck for the leadership of Francois' team. Sly and opportunistic, Spitz does his best to subdue Buck, but to no avail. Eventually, he meets his own death in an attempt to outwit Buck. While the entire team chases a wild rabbit with fervor, Spitz plots his own attack on his archrival. Buck proves too quick for him, however, and ends Spitz's life much in the same way that Spitz had killed Curly. Spitz's final view is of the circle of dogs waiting to devour him.


French-Canadian who, along with Francois, buys Buck for the use of the Canadian government. Perrault is described as being a "little weazened man who spat broken English and many strange and uncouth exclamations." Traveling ahead of the sled and checking the ice, he leads Buck and the rest of the team across the Northland delivering mail. Though he does not share the closeness that John Thornton does with Buck, he and his partner share a relationship of respect and camaraderie with the animal.


The man who introduces Buck to the harness, sled, and the use of the club and whip. Although Francois exposes Buck to the cruelty of man, the animal gains a respect for his work and for his ability to lead the sled team. Similarly, the man recognizes Buck's talent, drive, and stubbornness, and finds a deep respect for him. As Buck is reluctantly sold to his next owner, Perrault is last seen throwing his arms around the dog and crying.


Hal, an American, is "a middle-aged, lightish-colored man, with weak and watery eyes and a mustache that twisted fiercely and vigorously up." He, along with his wife, Mercedes, and brother-in-law, Charles, is described as looking out of place in the North. Hal buys Buck and his team from Francois and Perrault. Though he and his companions try to drive the team, they are incompetent, lazy, and miserably unprepared. Despite dumping much of their superfluous luggage, the group maintains a heavy, precarious sled, much too large a load for even the best sled team. The group soon runs out of food, and the overworked, underfed animals suffer from starvation and exhaustion. Dog after dog is lost to the harsh North. Finally, a half-delirious Buck refuses to go on. Hal beats him mercilessly, yet Buck stubbornly remains resolute. After beating the dog within inches of his life, Hal agrees to give the animal to John Thornton, who has been looking on. After Buck is cut from the traces, Hal leads the rest of the team on. The entire group dies instantly as they round the first corner, slipping into the cracks of the unsteady ice of the spring.

John Thornton

Thornton lives at the mouth of White River. A strong man, frostbite in his feet gives him a decided limp. A rugged sledder and man of the North, Buck's final owner is the first man that Buck feels love and true companionship with. He saves Buck from death at the hands of Hal, and lovingly searches the dog's body for any broken bones. Already aware of Buck's smarts and determination, he says simply, "You poor devil" as Hal and his team fall into the frigid water. It does not take long for a strong, loving friendship to develop between Thornton and Buck. Their loyalty, though obvious, is solidified as Buck risks his life to save Thornton on several occasions, including a foray into raging rapids that leaves Buck with several broken bones. Despite Buck's pronounced love for his master, his call to the wild sings louder throughout their friendship. He starts spending more and more time away from the campsite, and during one absence, Thornton is killed by the Yeehats, local Indians. A heartbroken Buck lashes out at his friend's murderers, and earns a place in local lore as a result. Though he becomes an animal of the wild, running with a group of wolves, he comes back to the valley to honor his final master.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter One - Part One
Chapter One - Part Two
Chapter Two - Part One
Chapter Two - Part Two
Chapter Three - Part One
Chapter Three - Part Two
Chapter Four - Part One
Chapter Four - Part Two
Chapter Five - Part One
Chapter Five - Part Two
Chapter Five - Part Three
Chapter Five - Part Four
Chapter Six - Part One
Chapter Six - Part Two
Chapter Six - Part Three
Chapter Six - Part Four
Chapter Seven - Part One
Chapter Seven - Part Two
Chapter Seven - Part Three
Chapter Seven - Part Four



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