The Call of the Wild Chapters 1 - 2 Summary

Buck is a half St. Bernard and half Scotch Shepard dog, who lives on Judge Miller's place. Buck is, at four years old, the king of his domain. He sleeps at his master's feet and during the day has the run of the place, unlike the house dogs or the hunting dogs. He feels he has a special place of entitlement in his master's eyes.

This all changes the evening he goes for a walk with the gardener's assistant Manuel. Manuel needs money to pay his gambling debts and he has figured out a way to make one hundred dollars quickly. He will sell Buck to men who supply dogs to Klondike gold prospectors. The year is 1897 and the gold in the Klondike is calling men there to find their riches.

Buck is confused at first by this turn of circumstances, then he becomes enraged after he is choked for growling at the man he has been sold to. This begins his troubles as he is shipped by rail from his home in the Santa Clara Valley of California to Seattle, Washington. During the trip he is denied food and water and is tormented by the men who transport him.

He ends up in the hands of the man in the red sweater, who clubs Buck into submission. Buck eventually gives up fighting the man, but he does not respect him. Buck is sold to Perrault, a French-Canadian, who takes him and Curly, another of the dogs, on board the ship Narwhal. There they are taken care of by FranÒ«ois, who is fair, but willing to give out punishment when warranted.

Two other huskies also travel on the ship with Buck and Curly, they are Spitz and Dave. Spitz is a large dog who feels the other dogs should do as he demands, because he has more experience and is a natural leader. Dave just wants the other dogs to leave him alone. After being on the ship for days, they finally land and Buck has his first experience with a substance that is strange to him-snow.

The ship lands on Dyea beach and Buck's world once again changes dramatically. He watches as kind Curly is torn apart by a husky, who she has made advances towards. She is besieged by that dog and others until FranÒ«ois, using an ax, manages to chase them away from her. Curly is dead and Buck has learned his first lesson, which is there is no such thing as fair play among these dogs.

Buck is harnessed to a sled with Spitz and Dave to haul firewood. He is taught by FranÒ«ois and the other dogs how to be part of a sled team. He discovers the way to limit abuse from the dogs and their handler is to learn quickly from his mistakes. He takes care to not make the same mistake twice, so he will not be bitten by Spitz and Dave. Through this experience he learns the dogs are ruled by the club and the fang, meaning either they are clubbed for misbehaving or the other dogs bite a dog who is not behaving appropriately. FranÒ«ois and Perrault are pleased with Buck's ability to learn his job quickly.

Buck becomes part of a nine-dog sled team for Perrault, who is a courier for the Canadian government. The other dogs on the team include Joe and Billee, who are brothers, Sol-leks, an angry dog, Pike, a dog who is lazy, Dub, who tries to steal food whenever he can, and another unnamed husky. Buck also learns to sleep under the snow, steal food, and to keep away from Sol-leks, a one-eyed husky, who is mean if he is approached from his blind side.

Buck leaves his civilized ways behind him as he learns to pick ice from between his toes with his teeth, to eat quickly and guard his food, and regress to living and thinking like his ancestor, the wolf. Buck hates his new way of life, but understands this is his life, so he adapts to survive.

The dogs change once they are put into their harnesses. They become consumed with a desire to pull the sled to the best of their ability. They do not tolerate any delay or misstep by any of the other dogs. Perrault is anxious to reach their destination, so they push the dogs to their physical limits. Perrault and FranÒ«ois ration the dogs' food giving them only enough to keep them going, but not enough to fill their bellies. The hard work and lack of food causes Buck to transform from a pet to a lean hard muscled working dog. He develops his senses to their utmost acuteness, especially his sense of hearing, which protects him from danger, by letting him know if sounds portend a threat. In other words, Buck becomes like his ancestor, the wolf, learning to live as a wolf lives, including howling at the moon.

Buck is taken from his world of privilege to the world of sled dogs in the Klondike. He learns how to defend himself and live in a world completely foreign to him. He also learns to survive and becomes hardened against the elements. He discovers how to behave within the team. He is afraid at times, but he is determined to not show it to the other dogs or humans. He may have been stolen, but he is not broken.

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