Literapedia Book Notes for

The Call of the Wild by Jack London


Characters

  • Buck (ch 1)— Half St. Bernard and half sheepdog, stolen from his home and becomes a sled dog, main character
  • Judge Miller (ch 1)— Buck’s owner while he lived on a farm in Santa Clara Valley
  • Toots (ch 1) The Japanese pug, lives in the house on Judge Miller’s farm with Buck
  • Ysabel (ch 1) The Mexican hairless, lives in the house on Judge Miller’s farm with Buck
  • Judge’s Son (ch 1)Judge Miller’s sons, often play with Buck
  • Mollie and Alice (ch 1)Judge Miller’s daughters, take walks with Buck
  • Elmo (ch 1)Buck’s father, never actually appears in the story
  • Shep (ch 1)Buck’s mother, never actually appears in the story
  • Manuel (ch 1)A Gardner on Judge Miller’s farm, steals Buck and sells him
  • Saloon-keeper (ch 1)an accomplice in Buck’s kidnapping
  • Man with a Red Sweater (ch 1)“Cures” Buck’s aggression by beating him near-death with a club
  • Francois (ch 1)French Canadian mail driver who buys Buck as an addition to his sled dog team
  • Perrault (ch 1)French Canadian mail driver working with Francois
  • Curly (ch 1)“Good-natured Newfoundland” and Buck’s friend, travels with him to the North, killed when trying to befriend a husky
  • Dave (ch 1)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, his determination to pull the sled leads to his death
  • Spitz (ch 2)Buck’s archenemy, initial leader of Francois’s dog team, always fights with other dogs, killed by Buck
  • Billee (ch 2)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, “good-natured”, brother of Joe
  • Joe (ch 2)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, “sour and introspective”, brother of Billee
  • Sol-leks (ch 2)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, older and experienced
  • Pike (ch 2)Dog on Francois’s sled team with buck, “clever thief”
  • Dub (ch 2)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, “awkward blunderer”
  • Dolly (ch 3)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck
  • Teek (ch 4)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, trained by Buck
  • Koona (ch 4)Dog on Francois’s sled team with Buck, trained by Buck
  • Scotch half-breed, AKA “half-breed cook” (ch 4)took over Francois and Perrault’s sled team
  • Hal (ch 5)Comes to Canada seeking gold with his sister and brother-in-law, buys Buck and the sled team, inexperienced at dog sledding
  • Mercedes (ch 5)Charles’s wife, Hal’s sister, high maintenance and spoiled, sympathetic to the sled dogs
  • Charles (ch 5)Hal’s brother-in-law, Mercedes’ husband
  • The Outside Dogs (ch 5)added to the sled team by Hal and Charles, three short-haired pointers, one Newfoundland, two “mongrels of indeterminate breed”
  • John Thornton (ch 5)Buck’s final owner, experienced gold-seeker, saves Buck from certain death at the hands of Hal
  • Skeet (ch 6)Irish Setter, lives with John Thornton, nurses Buck
  • Nig (ch 6)“huge black dog”, lives with John Thornton
  • Hans (ch 6)John Thornton’s gold-seeking partner, accompanies the sled team
  • Pete (ch 6)John Thornton’s gold-seeking partner, accompanies the sled team
  • “Black” Burton (ch 6)picks a fight with John Thornton at a bar, attacked by Buck
  • Matthewson (ch 6)Bets a thousand dollars with John Thornton that Buck can’t pull a thousand pounds
  • Jim O’Brien (ch 6)Lends John Thornton a thousand dollars to match the bet
  • Skookum Bench king (ch 6)Offers to buy Buck from John Thornton, denied
  • The Hairy Man (ch 7)Figure that appears in Buck’s dreams
  • Buck’s “Wild Brother” (ch 7)Wolf with whom Buck runs through the woods with
  • The Yeehats (ch 7)— Indian tribe that attacks and kills John Thornton and his crew, suffer massive casualties at the jaws of Buck

Chapter Summaries

  1. Into the Primitive Manuel steals Buck away from his comfortable home on John Miller’s farm, selling him into the market of sled dogs needed for the gold rush. Buck has a rough, aggressive journey by train. He is beaten into submission by the man in a red sweater, and learns that he can’t fight men with clubs. Buck is bought by Perrault and Francois and travels north where he sees snow for the fist time.
  2. The Law of Club and FangBuck’s friend Curly is attacked and killed by a pack of sled dogs. Buck understands that you can’t go down in a fight. Buck learns quickly on his first sled drive, and takes a dislike to Spitz, the team’s lead dog. Billiee, Joe, and Sol-leks join the team. Buck learns how to sleep warmly in the snow, eat his food fast, and steal. The team begins their long journey.
  3. The Dominant Primordial BeastSpitz and Buck’s relationship grows more aggressive. When the team is at camp for the night, Spitz and Buck prepare to fight, when the group is attacked by a pack of starving Huskies. Badly hurt and outnumbered, the sled team retreats, returning to camp in the morning to find no food remaining. The team travels over dangerous, icy terrain. Dolly goes mad and Francois kills her with an axe. Buck begins to undermine Spitz’s leadership. One night the dogs spot a rabbit and chase it into the woods, where Spitz and Buck become locked in a fight to the death. After a bloody battle, Buck kills Spitz.
  4. Who Has Won to MastershipBuck takes Spitz’s old position at the head of the team, and proves an excellent leader. The team travels in record time. Buck and his team are passed from the hands of Perrault and Francois into the care of a Scotsman. Dave, one of the more seasoned team members, begins to suffer from a mysterious illness, and while the men try to make him rest, Dave refuses and continues to pull the sled. The next day he is too weak to travel, and it is inferred that the Scotsman shoots him.
  5. The Toil of Trace and TrailBuck and his team are sold to Hal, Charles, and Mercedes, a group of inexperienced gold-seekers. The loaded sled is too heavy to pull, and the load spills. Hal and Charles buy six inexperienced dogs. The team begins to die off as the food supply runs out. With five dogs left, the team comes to the camp of John Thornton, who warns them not to travel further on the melting ice. Buck refuses to move, and John Thornton cuts him out of his harness. The rest of the team continues on, and the whole sled falls through the ice.
  6. For the Love of a ManBuck develops a deep affection for Thornton as the man nurses him back to health. Buck attacks a man who pushes Thornton in a bar. Buck saves Thornton’s life when he falls off a boat, getting caught in strong river rapids. Thornton bets that Buck can pull a thousand pound sled, despite the disbelief of many men. Buck beats the odds, earning Thornton a large sum of money.
  7. The Sounding of the CallJohn Thornton and his partners Pete and Hans assemble a sled team and search for a legendary gold mine. Finding a valley full of gold, the team makes a permanent camp. Buck feels wild urges, and runs through the woods alongside a wolf who becomes his friend. Buck begins to leave camp and live in the woods for longer periods of time. Buck corners a moose, killing him after four days. Returning to camp, Buck finds the entire team, including John Thornton, dead. Buck attacks a group of Yeehat Indians responsible for the killings, slaying several of them. Buck eventually joins and leads the wolf pack, becoming the fabled Ghost Dog of Yeehat ledged.

Student Contributors


Kelsi Weissgold (2008)