The Call of the Wild | Jack London

Summary of: The Call of the Wild
By: Jack London


Dive into the captivating world of ‘The Call of the Wild’ with this engaging summary of Jack London’s classic novel. Witness the thrilling journey of Buck, a domesticated dog who is suddenly thrust into the harsh wilderness, as he learns to survive and adapt to his new life. Along the way, he faces fierce rivals, cruel and loving masters, and the age-old instincts lurking within him. Exploring themes of nature, survival, and the bond between man and animal, this summary offers an exciting glimpse into Buck’s transformation from a pampered pet to a resilient sled dog and, eventually, a powerful leader in the world of wolves.

Buck, the wild dog

Buck, a four-year-old mongrel, lives on a farm in Santa Clara Valley, California. He spends his days freely roaming around the farm and accompanying the older children on their hunts. Despite being domesticated, he isn’t a house dog and feels superior to the other dogs on the farm. He may seem tame, lying by the fire in the evenings, but Buck is wild at heart.

Buck’s Harsh Journey

Manuel, the Judge’s gardener, needs money to pay his debts and sells the loyal dog, Buck, without his knowledge. Buck wakes up in a train carriage with a sore throat and tongue and no food or water. The kidnapper sells Buck to a man in a red jumper who trains him with a club as a sled dog with Curly. Buck realizes that the man with the club is his oppressor, but eventually submits to him.

Buck’s Introduction to Primitive Law

Buck, a wild and parched sled dog, is sold to a man in a red jumper who subdues him with a club. Buck faces the reality of primitive law and submits to his oppressor, promising never to seek his favor. He is then sold to sled drivers Perrault and François, along with Curly, to join their team of sled dogs.

Buck’s Brutal Introduction to the Wild

Buck, a domesticated dog, experiences snow for the first time during a voyage north with other dogs. At Dyea Beach, he witnesses the hostile nature of the wild as a husky kills Curly, a friendly dog. Buck learns to keep a low profile and distrusts Spitz, the lead dog. He quickly adapts to being a sled dog and learns critical survival skills from François and his team. Buck’s instincts emerge as he hardens his muscles and learns to protect his food, bury himself in the snow, and adapt to the harsh environment.

Spitz and Buck’s Epic Showdown

A bitter rivalry forms between Spitz and Buck, with Spitz constantly harassing Buck. Buck knows that Spitz is simply waiting for a chance to fight and assert his dominance. However, after a stressful day, Buck is provoked into attacking Spitz. Their fight is interrupted by a pack of wild, starving huskies who attack the sled dogs. In the chaos, Spitz still tries to get at Buck. The fight ends when the humans and dogs manage to drive off the huskies, but not without paying a steep price – all the dogs are wounded, and half the supplies are gone.

Battling for Leadership

Buck and Spitz engage in a fierce supremacy battle after Dolly’s sudden outburst and Spitz’s biting of Buck. Buck subtly defies Spitz’s authority until the snowshoe rabbit chase presents an opportunity for Buck to attack Spitz. Initially at a disadvantage, Buck resorts to cunning and breaks Spitz’s legs, leading to his ultimate defeat and death. With Spitz gone, Buck becomes the new leader of the sled dogs. However, the constant struggle for dominance between the two dogs has caused discipline in the team to fall apart.

Buck’s Leadership Triumph

Buck’s desire to lead the sled team and his ability to restore discipline pays off as he becomes the team’s new leader after convincing handlers Perrault and François. Buck leads the team to success on their return to Skagway and manages to handle a much heavier load. Along the journey, Buck experiences repeated visions of a primeval man by a fire, a sign of his growing connection to his primitive instincts.

The Tragic Journey of Sled Dogs

The book describes the abuse and neglect suffered by sled dogs during the Klondike Gold Rush. Dave, the lead dog in one of the teams, suffers from extreme internal pain, becomes weak, and stumbles in the harness. Even though the handlers try to help him, he is eventually left behind and shot. Similarly, Buck and his team face cruelty at the hands of inexperienced adventurers Hal, Mercedes, and Charles, who mistreat the dogs, pack the sled too heavily, and skimp on food. The dogs are whipped and forced to pull the sled despite their exhaustion, leading to starvation and death. The book portrays the sled dogs as loyal and hardworking animals that are exploited for human greed.

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