The Call of the Wild
Jack London
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 2

On a beach in Dyea, Buck’s tough life begins — a life distinctively opposite from the one he had at Judge Miller’s house. His first unforgettable lesson and experience was with Curly. While she tries to be friendly with the huskies, they respond by attacking — tearing her face open from eye to jaw, after which more dogs descend on the victim and ripping her apart. The experience haunts Buck, often disturbing him in his sleep. Spitz seems amused by Curly’s death — and for that, Buck hates him passionately. Before having recovered from the horrific death of his mate, François, a French-Canadian black-faced giant harnesses him to a sled, making him ready to work. The experience is new and hurts his dignity, although he never rebels. Under the combined efforts of Spitz, a big snow white fellow, Dave, a gloomy morose fellow who always desires to be left alone, and François, he easily learns on working effectively with the other dogs. 

More dogs are added to the pack, which includes Joe and Billie (two brothers and true huskies), and Sol-leks (an old husky with a battle-face and a single eye). That night, Buck has trouble sleeping and attempts to find comfort in a warm candlelit tent, during which Perrault and François chase him back out to the bitter cold. He tries to sleep on the snow, but finds it impossible due to the cold. Buck’s attempts at finding his teammates prove to be futile, until he finally sees Billie wriggled up in a hole in the snow. He ends up doing the same, and falls asleep soon after in his own. After morning comes, Buck wakes up buried in snow, and believing that he is caught in a trap. Nonetheless, he soon comprehends everything that has happened to him. His masters seem impressed by his ability to learn quickly. Three more huskies are added to the team before they head to Dyea Canyon for the hard work ahead. Spitz is the leader of the single file and Dave is the wheeler; Buck works between Dave and Sol-leks, where he receives lessons from both. 

By day, the dogs pull the sled over glaciers and deep snowdrifts, and rest up at camp during the night. Every day, their work involves moving for many miles, with Perrault often taking the lead to make the work easier by “packing the snow with webbed shoes”. The experience teaches Buck different survival methods, including eating fast and secretly stealing food to quench his hunger. His domesticated nature quickly fades away, bringing on his wild, primitive side as a strong dog with iron-hard muscles and the ability to bear ordinary pain.


Life in the north is tough, especially for a civilized town dog like Buck. The new experiences portray the uncivilized world of men and sled dogs, living by completely different rules from those of the civilized world. The events that befall Curly and her death are a means of establishing the downsides of assuming that every dog is friendly — an occurrence that teaches Buck a lot about survival. It also gives him a chance to learn different things that help him survive under extreme conditions and circumstances. The knowledge he achieves becomes part of his power, as he understands the irrelevance of fair play in the Northland and the importance of strength and violence as essential survival skills. Furthermore, the chaotic situations empower him to the extent that he develops a sense of belonging, an attribute portrayed when he starts to steal food and fight other dogs in a wolf-like manner — a behavior that would have attracted consequences back in Judge Miller’s house. 

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