Details of The Call of the Wild
I found a site that has the novel The Call Of The Wild available. There is access to all 7 chapters. It is called Bibliomania. You can listen to it on Librovox. Here are some interesting details about the book found on BookRags.com.
I found interesting details of the book on BookRags such as:
Important Places and Objects
Quote 1: “[It was] because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.” Chapter 1, pg. 1
Quote 2: “Old longings nomadic lap,/Chafing at custom’s chain;/Again from its brumal sleep/Wakens the ferine strain.” Chapter 1, pg. 1
Quote 3: “More tormentors, Buck decided, for they were evil-looking creatures, ragged and unkempt; and he stormed and raged at them through the bars. They only laughed and poked sticks at him, which he promptly assailed with his teeth till he realized that that was what they wanted.” Chapter 1, pg. 8
Quote 4: “He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and in all his afterlife he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the reign of primitive law…The facts of life took on a fiercer aspect; and while he faced that aspect uncowed, he faced it with all the latent cunning of his nature aroused.” Chapter 1, pg. 13
Quote 5: “Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety. All was confusion and action, and every moment life and limb were in peril. There was imperative need to be constantly alert; for these dogs and men were not town dogs and men. They were savages, all of them, who knew no law but the law of club and fang.” Chapter 2, pg. 18
Quote 6: “He never had enough, and suffered from perpetual hunger pangs. Yet the other dogs, because they weighed less and were born to the life, received only a pound only of the fish and managed to keep in good condition.” Chapter 2, pg. 28
Quote 7: “[Buck’s changes] marked…the decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence. It was all well enough in the Southland, under the law of love and fellowship, to respect private property and personal feelings; but in the Northland, under the law of club and fang, whoso took such things into account was a fool, and insofar as he observed them he would fail to prosper.” Chapter 2, pg. 29
Quote 8: “In this manner had fought forgotten ancestors. They quickened the old life within him, the old tricks which they had stamped into the heredity of the breed were his tricks…And when, on the still cold nights, he pointed his nose at a star and howled long and wolflike, it was his ancestors, dead and dust, pointing nose at star and howling down through the centuries and through him.” Chapter 2, pg. 31
Quote 9: “The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck, and under the fierce condition of trail life it grew and grew. Yet it was a secret growth. His newborn cunning gave him poise and control…and in the bitter hatred between him and Spitz he betrayed no impatience, shunned all offensive acts.” Chapter 3, pg. 32
Quote 10: “This was a great relief, and Buck caused even the weazened face of Perrault to twist itself into a grin one morning, when Francois forgot the moccasins and Buck lay on his back, his four feet waving appealingly in the air, and refused to budge without them. Later his feet grew hard to the trail, and the worn-out footgear was thrown away.” Chapter 3, pg. 40
Quote 11: “Buck wanted [to fight]…because it was his nature, because he had been gripped tight by that nameless, incomprehensible pride of the trail and trace — that pride which holds dogs in the toil to the last gasp, which lures them to die joyfully in the harness, and breaks their hearts if they are cut out of the harness.” Chapter 3, pg. 42
Quote 12: “This was the pride that bore up Spitz and made him thrash the sled-dogs who blundered and shirked in the traces or hid away at the harness-up time in the morning. Likewise it was this pride that made him fear Buck as possible lead dog. And this was Buck’s pride, too. He openly threatened the other’s leadership.” Chapter 3, pg. 42-43
Quote 13: “It was an old song, old as the breed itself [and it was] vested with the woe of unnumbered generations, this plaint by which Buck was so strangely stirred. When he moaned and sobbed, it was with the pain of living that was of old the pain of his wild fathers…And that he should be stirred by it marked the completeness with which he harked back through the ages of fire and roof to the raw beginnings of life in the howling ages.” Chapter 3, pg. 45
Quote 14: “All that stirring of old instincts which at stated periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and plain to kill things by chemically propelled leaden bullets, the blood lust, the joy to kill — all this was Buck’s, only it was infinitely more intimate. He was ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing down, the living meat, to kill with how own teeth and wash his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood.” Chapter 3, pg. 48
Quote 15: “Despite the pain and helplessness, Spitz struggled madly to keep up. He saw the silent circle, with gleaming eyes, lolling tongues, and silvery breaths drifting upward, closing in upon him as he had seen similar circles close in upon beaten antagonists in the past. Only this time he was the one who was beaten.” Chapter 3, pg. 52
Quote 16: “They cursed [Buck], and his fathers and mothers before him, and all his seed to come after him down to the generation, and every hair on his body and drop of blood in his veins; and [Buck] answered curse with snarl and kept out of their reach…advertising plainly that when his desire was met, he would come in and be good.” Chapter 4, pg. 56
Quote 17: “Far more potent were the memories of his heredity that gave things he had never seen before a seeming familiarity; the instincts (which were but the memories of his ancestors become habits) which had lapsed in later days, and still later, in him, quickened and became alive again.” Chapter 4, pg. 61
Quote 18: “[Dave] pleaded with his eyes to remain there…[the men] talked of how a dog could break its heart through being denied the work that killed it, and recalled instances they had known, where dogs, too old for the toil, or injured, had died because they were cut out of the traces. Also, they held it a mercy, since Dave was to die anyway, that he should die in the traces, heart-easy and content.” Chapter 4, pg. 66
Quote 19: “The wonderful patience of the trail which comes to men who toil hard and suffer sore, and remain sweet of speech and kindly, did not come to these two men and the woman. They had no inkling of such a patience. They were stiff and in pain; their muscles ached, their bones ached, their very hearts ached; and because of this they became sharp of speech.” Chapter 5, pg. 80
Quote 20: “His muscles had wasted away to knotty strings, and the flesh pads had disappeared, so that each rib and every bone in his frame were outlined cleanly through the loose hide that was wrinkled in folds of emptiness. It was heartbreaking, only Buck’s heart was unbreakable. The man in the red sweater had proved that.” Chapter 5, pg. 83
Quote 21: “The sap was rising in the pines. The willows and aspens were bursting out in young buds. Shrubs and vines were putting on fresh garbs of green. Crickets sang in the nights, and in the days all manners of creeping, crawling things rustled forth in the sun. Partridges and woodpeckers were booming and knocking in the forest. Squirrels were chattering, birds singing.” Chapter 5, pg. 85
Quote 22: “He felt strangely numb. As though from a great distance, he was aware that he was being beaten. The last sensations of pain left him. He no longer felt anything, though very faintly he could hear the impact of the club upon his body. But it was no longer his body, it seemed so far away.” Chapter 5, pg. 88
Quote 23: “Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time…With the Judge’s sons, hunting and tramping, it had been a working partnership; with the Judge’s grandsons, a sort of pompous guardianship; and with the Judge himself, a stately and dignified friendship. But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse.” Chapter 6, pg. 92-93
Quote 24: “[Buck] sat by John Thornton’s fire, a broad-breasted dog, white-fanged and long furred; but behind him were the shades of all manner of dogs, half-wolves and wild wolves, urgent and prompting, tasting the savor of the meat he ate, thirsting for the water he drank…lying down to sleep with him when he lay down, and dreaming with him and beyond him and becoming themselves the stuff of his dreams.” Chapter 6, pg. 96-97
Quote 25: “Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call…he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest…But as often as he gained the soft unbroken earth and the green shade, the love for John Thornton drew him back to the fire again. Thornton alone held him. The rest of mankind was as nothing.” Chapter 6, pg. 97
Quote 26: “He had caught the contagion of the excitement, and he felt that in some way he must do a great thing for John Thornton. Murmurs of admiration at his splendid appearance went up. He was in perfect condition, without an ounce of superfluous flesh…His furry coat shone with the sheen of silk…Men felt [his] muscles and proclaimed them hard as iron.” Chapter 6, pg. 107
Quote 27: “[The] cheer began to grow and grow, which burst into a roar as he passed the firewood and halted at command. Every man was tearing himself loose, even Matthewson. Hats and mittens were flying into the air. Men were shaking hands, it did not matter with whom, and bubbling over in a general incoherent babel.” Chapter 6, pg. 110
Quote 28: “Sometimes he pursued the call into the forest, looking for it as though it were a tangible thing, barking softly or defiantly…Irresistible impulses seized him. he would be lying in camp, dozing lazily in the heat of the day, when suddenly his head would lift and his ears cock up, intent and listening, and he would spring on his feet and dash away, and on and on, for hours, though the forest aisles.” Chapter 7, pg. 117
Quote 29: “But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.” Chapter 7, pg. 118
Quote 30: “The blood-longing became stronger than ever before. He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survived.” Chapter 7, pg. 122
Quote 31: “Again Buck knew [the sounds] as things heard in that other world which persisted in his memory. He walked to the center of the open space and listened. It was the call, the many-noted call, sounding more luringly and compelling than ever before. And as never before, he was ready to obey. John Thornton was dead. The last tie was broken. Man and the claims of man no longer bound him.” Chapter 7, pg. 134
Quote 32: “When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.” Chapter 7, pg. 137
Buck: A dog who bears his enormous size from his father, a St. Bernard, and intelligence his mother, German Shepherd. Brown-haired with white patches on his nose and chest, Buck grows up in northern California on Judge Miller’s homestead, where he leads a carefree existence free from any harm. However, when Manuel sells Buck away he encounters many obstacles to be overcome in a ruthless struggle to survive in the Alaskan wilderness as a sled dog, first for Perrault and Francois, later for the Scotch half-breed, and then for three Americans who mistreat him. Saved by John Thornton, an enamored Buck joins this man on an expedition deep into the Yukon Territory to discover gold. There, Buck undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis, hunting prey in the wilds and eventually joining a wolf pack after Thornton’s murder by the Yeehats. He finally listens to the voice of the wild within him, calling out for him to return to the primal ways of his wolfish ancestors.
Perrault: A French Canadian man who joins Francois on the Narwhal after Buck is purchased in Seattle. Perrault is a special courier for the Canadian government, responsible for delivering important messages throughout Alaska and the Yukon Territory. Buck grows to respect Perrault because of the fairness with which he treats the sled dogs, punishing those who are bad and rewarding those who do well. Perrault and his partner Francois bid a final farewell to Buck one day in Skaguay, Alaska, after receiving new orders from the government.
Francois: A French Canadian man who purchases Buck with Perrault in Seattle before traveling aboard the ship Narwhal, bound for Dyea, Alaska. Francois is mainly responsible for driving the sled team and caring for the dogs, and he forms a close bond with Buck over time. When Spitz disappears, Francois knows immediately that Buck is responsible for his death. Buck grows to respect Francois because of his fairness, although Francois hugs Buck one final time before he departs elsewhere, having received new orders from the Canadian government. Buck doesn’t see him again.
Spitz: A bullying dog so named because he was brought by a whaling captain from ‘Spitzbergen,’ located on the island of Svalbard north of Russia and Norway. An experienced sled dog, Spitz is the leader of the team, although he is arrogant and treacherous. When Curly dies, Spitz offers no assistance, causing Buck to hate him. Tensions between Buck and Spitz escalate as Buck covets Spitz’s leadership position. Eventually, a final fight between the two dogs leaves Spitz with a broken leg, and he is then ripped to pieces by the other dogs whom he had belittled and bullied for so long.
Hal: A nineteen year old brother of Mercedes from America, Hal is unused to the harsh weather in the Northland. Having dreams of striking it rich during the Klondike Gold Rush, this young man is cruel and brash, often mistreating the sled dogs terribly. After nearly beating Buck to death until he is saved by an enraged John Thornton, Hal then defiantly drives the remaining sled dogs ahead onto a melting trail, where he then drown beneath the ice along with Mercedes and Charles.
Charles: A middle-aged man and husband of Mercedes, also from America. Charles is a lazy man, accustomed to the luxuries of urban life, who knows nothing about life out on the trail, although he holds high hopes of getting rich in the Klondike Gold Rush. Bossed around by his wife Mercedes and her arrogant brother-in-law, Charles later becomes more argumentative when they begin to run out of food. He offers no assistance to Buck as Hal is beating him before his very eyes, nor does he assist Hal when he is being attacked by Thornton because he feels too tired. Charles tries to turn back after Hal and Mercedes drown, but the ice collapses around him and he falls beneath the frigid waters himself.
Mercedes: Sensual and selfish, Mercedes is the only female human to appear in the story. Accustomed to the luxuries of life in urban America, she is forced to abandon her huge wardrobe of outfits to lighten the dogsled. Mercedes appears at first to show compassion, urging Buck to obey Hal and Charles so that they won’t beat him, but later she worries only about herself and insists on riding in the sled because she is tired of walking. This added weight to pull contributes to Buck’s extreme fatigue, even though he is doing the best he can, and it is partly responsible for causing the ice to break that kills her, Charles, Hal, and the surviving sled dogs. Mercedes’ selfishness brings death to everybody.
John Thornton: A compassionate, wise, sensible man who always craves another adventure. Bearing the greatest resemblance to the author in character and in name (Jack London’s given name was John London), John Thornton rescues Buck from Hal’s cruel whip, nursing the poor dog back to health. Buck grows to love this man because of this kindness, helping Thornton in turn when he is drowning in a river, when he is attacked by another man, and also when John makes a bet that Buck can pull a sled weighing half a ton all by himself. Thornton then takes Buck on a new adventure for gold in the Yukon Territory, although he is killed by the Yeehat warriors while Buck is away hunting moose in the forest. Upon returning to the camp, Buck slays these dancing Yeehats in rage, mourning for his dead friend. His love for Thornton had always been stronger than the call of the wild; however, with Thornton dead, Buck reenters the forest and joins a wolf pack, living life from then on as a wild beast.
Judge Miller: A wealthy, retired judge who owns a spacious estate in California’s Santa Clara Valley. Buck’s St. Bernard father had been Judge Miller’s devoted companion, and Buck succeeds him in fulfilling this role. The Judge’s gardener steals Buck away, and he never sees the Judge again.
Manuel: Judge Miller’s gardener. Afflicted by gambling debts, Manuel unjustly sells Buck away to a stranger at the railroad station.
Man in the red sweater: An experienced dog handler in Seattle.
The man in the red sweater breaks Buck out of the crate where he has been enclosed for two days without food or water. Buck is enraged, but the man teaches him humility by hitting him with a club; each time Buck attacks, the man in the red sweater outsmarts him, eventually hitting him in the genitals as a final blow. Beaten, Buck calms down and eagerly eats food from the man’s hand. The man in the red sweater sells Buck to Francois and Perrault.
Dave: An antisocial dog who runs directly behind Buck on the sled team, nipping his legs when Buck makes mistakes. He lives for the sled, and at all other times Dave does not want to associate with any of the other dogs, dying while still struggling to pull the sled although his body has become sick. The Scotch half-breed shoots Dave with his gun, relieving the poor dog from his suffering.
Curly: A cheerful Newfoundland dog purchased by Francois and Perrault, whom Buck first meets aboard the Narwhal. Curly’s life is short lived, however, as she is torn to pieces by the other sled dogs when she nudges one of them to play. Buck forever resents Spitz because he laughs during this massacre, offering no assistance.
Billee: Brother dog of Joe. Billee is good-natured and friendly just as Curly had been, although he is a bit more streetwise as well about how to approach the other sled dogs. Billee collapses after Hal’s mistreatment, and the man breaks his skull in frustration with an ax while laying in the snow.
Joe: Brother of Billee. Unlike his good-natured brother, Joe is very gruff and tough, defending himself against the bullying Spitz on occasion. Joe survives until the very end, when he drowns beneath the ice with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes collapses beneath them.
Sol-leks: An old, seasoned sled dog who only had one eye. Like Dave, Sol-leks (whose name means ‘Angry One’) lives only to pull the sled, but at all other times he is quiet and antisocial. Sol-leks pulls directly in front of Buck, setting an examples for him. Sol-leks survives until the very end, when he drowns along with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes when the trail collapses beneath them.
Pike: A sneaky sled dog, secretly stealing food from the sled drivers among other things. Buck quickly learns from him how not to get caught. No longer having the energy to be sneaky, Pike eventually drowns along with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes when the trail collapses beneath them.
Dub: Dub tries to copy Pike in committing sneaky antics, but he is clumsy about it and often gets caught by Perrault and Francois. Because of this, Dub is the general scapegoat whenever anything goes wrong. Too tired to continue along the trail and nursing a wounded shoulder, Hal shoots Dub in the head with a gun in order to end his suffering.
Teek: A faithful husky sled dog, acquired with Koona by Francois and Perrault. Buck quickly trains Teek how to pull the sled. Because he joins the team so late and has more energy than the other dogs, Teek survives until the very end when the trail collapses beneath the sled, and he drowns along with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes.
Koona: Added to the team along with Teek, Koona is also a faithful husky, quickly trained by Buck. Starving to death and tired, Koona collapses along the trail because of Hal’s cruel mistreatment. Koona is probably axed in the head to end his suffering, just as Billee had been the day before.
Scotch half-breed: A sled driver who takes charge of the team after Francois and Perrault’s departure. The Scotch half-breed treats the dogs fairly as they pull mail back and forth to Dawson City, although the heavier loads prove to be an increasing pain for the dogs. When the dogs are completely worn out after arriving in Skaguay, Alaska, the Scotch half-breed leaves the dogs when they are sold to Hal, Charles, and Mercedes, because he is getting fresh, new dogs that can do the job better than Buck’s team.
Skeet: A friendly Irish setter belonging to John Thornton. As Billee had been, Skeet is very good-natured and licks Buck’s wounds, nursing him back to health in a motherly sort of way. Skeet dies at the side of a pool containing John Thornton’s body, ‘faithful to the last,’ murdered by the Yeehat warriors.
Nig: A large black dog, half bloodhound and half deerhound belonging to John Thornton. Like Skeet, Nig is extremely friendly towards Buck as they journey throughout the Yukon Territory. Buck finds Nig’s dead body near the camp, with a Yeehat arrow ruthlessly pierced through his back.
Hans: Thornton’s traveling partner, along with Pete. These two bring the raft to carry Thornton and Buck to Dawson City when the trail begins to melt away, and later, Hans helps to pull John to safety after he pulls into a raging river. Hans later dies after being shot countless times by Yeehat arrows that stick out of his back ‘like a porcupine.’
Pete: Thornton’s other traveling partner, along with Hans. Pete, with Hans, brings the raft that carries Buck and Thornton to Dawson City; Pete helps to pull Thornton to safety after he nearly drowns in a river. Pete is cruelly slain in his sleeping bag by the Yeehat warriors, where Buck finds his dead body after returning to the camp.
Matthewson: A wealthy man who places a bet with John Thornton. Convinced that Thornton’s dog Buck cannot pull a sled weighing one thousand pounds, Matthewson wagers sixteen hundred dollars that Buck will fail. He is proven wrong, however, when Buck accomplishes this enormous feat, and Thornton wins all of his money, using it to embark on an expedition deep into the Yukon to find gold.
Yeehats: A fictitious Native American tribe. The Yeehats attack Thornton’s camp, murdering all of its inhabitants, although Buck unleashes his fury against them when he returns. The Yeehats flee the camp, terrified and thinking that Buck is a creature with supernatural powers called the ‘Evil Spirit.’ As times passes, the Yeehats never return to the valley where Thornton’s camp has been, believing that it is the Evil Spirit’s home. The Yeehats also call Buck the ‘Ghost Dog,’ leading a pack of wolves and spawning an age of fear and terror against wandering hunters and Yeehat warriors.
Dolly: A strong husky purchased in Dyea, Alaska by Francois and Perrault. Dolly is badly hurt after an attack of wild dogs, and she later goes rabid herself, furiously attacking the other sled dogs including Buck, until her skull is forever smashed by Francois, as he struggles to stop her madness.
Santa Clara Valley: A region of California located about forty miles south of San Francisco. The largest urban area in the Santa Clara Valley is modern day San Jose. In this region, Judge Miller owns a sizeable estate that includes horses, vineyards, and gardens. It is here that Buck spends the first four years of his life.
Klondike Gold Rush: Begun in 1897 amidst a general economic depression in the Pacific Northwest with high rates of unemployment; huge rush of gold-seeking people from the West Coast moving northward into Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory to seek gold in Canada’s Klondike River. Although the Klondike Gold Rush energized this region until it ended abruptly in 1899, many of the miners’ hopes were in vain as they returned home empty-handed, like write Jack London himself. Seattle, Dawson City, Skaguay, and Dyea were a few of the cities that prospered from this sudden, but short-lived, influx of people between the years 1897-1899.
San Francisco: A large city located in northeastern California. Buck is brought to San Francisco by train after Manuel kidnaps him from Judge Miller’s house. From San Francisco, he is transported yet again to Seattle, Washington to be sold as a sled dog.
Seattle: Called the ‘Gateway to Alaska and the Orient,’ Seattle plays a very important role during the Klondike Gold Rush. Located in northwestern Washington, this coastal city is the last stop for many travelers before they enter Alaska, whether it is by train or by boat. Traveling miners bought supplies in Seattle, newly discovered gold capital flowed into the city from the north, and lumber from the rich forests around the city was shipped into Alaska to build new settlements for the miners there. Seattle continued to prosper even when the Gold Rush ended and the influx of people slowed down. Perrault and Francois purchase Buck when he is brought to Seattle after a long train ride. From Seattle, the men travel by boat to Dyea, Alaska.
Narwhal: A ship that carries Perrault, Francois, Buck, and the newly purchased sled dogs from Seattle, Washington to Dyea, Alaska.
Alaska: Originally under Russian control, the Territory of Alaska was sold to the United States of America in 1867. Unlike the Klondike Gold Rush, this land located in the northwest corner of the North American continent was largely undeveloped and unused. However, the sudden influx of people to the region in 1897 spurred on a series of reforms by the American government. Although many gold claims were staked in the nearby Yukon Territory of Canada, miners had to pass through Alaska in order to reach the gold fields, spurring on the growth of such settlements as Skaguay, Dyea, and Circle City along the way. The Chilkoot Pass and the White Pass, which Buck travels many times, lead from Alaska to the lake regions of the Yukon Territory. Alaska officially became the 49th state to join the Union in 1959, over half a century after the Gold Rush ended.
Queen Charlotte Sound: A body of water between Seattle, Washington and along the western coast of British Columbia, located in the Pacific Ocean. The ship Narwhal passes through the Queen Charlotte Sound on its way to Dyea, Alaska.
Dyea, Alaska: A booming town in Alaska built on the banks of the Taiya River located ten miles north of Skaguay. These two towns had always competed for popularity, although the construction of a railroad in Skaguay ultimately causes Dyea to be less favored. The Dyea or Chilkoot Pass, running parallel to the White Pass out of Skagway, transports miners to the lakes region bordering the sought after Klondike River. Buck first arrives at Dyea, Alaska as his sled pulling adventure begins. Today, Dyea is an unpopulated ghost town, with hardly any trace it had ever existed, although one can still hike along the dangerous Chilkoot Pass.
Chilkoot Trail: The Chilkoot Trail or Chilkoot Pass, also called the Dyea Pass, was a dangerous route leading from Dyea, Alaska, to the Yukon Territory’s lakes region that led to the coveted Klondike River. The Chilkoot Trail is much more treacherous than the White Pass, as Buck himself experiences with Perrault and Francois, contributing no doubt to the eventual abandonment of Dyea as a point of entry for the Yukon Territory. Modern day visitors can still hike along the Chilkoot Pass, however.
Dawson City, Canada: Located at the mouth of the Klondike River where it meets the Yukon River, Dawson City was named after George Dawson, who explored the region with the Canadian Geological Survey in 1887; nicknamed the ‘Paris of the North’ due to the bustling activity here that centered greatly upon the mining industry, because of its proximity to the Klondike River. Miners during the Klondike Gold Rush relied on Dawson City as a source of supplies and transportation. Buck pulls the sled many times to Dawson City from locations in Alaska.
Thirty Mile River: The Thirty Mile River (which is the Yukon River) begins where the Chilkoot Pass ends, leading directly to Dawson City, where the Yukon River forms a junction with the gold-rich Klondike River. Buck experiences great difficulty crossing through this region with Perrault and Francois.
Rink Rapids: A rough section of waters in the Yukon River. It is at a small settlement here where Francois and Perrault buy the huskies Teek and Koona.
Skaguay, Alaska: Today known as Skagway, a popular city for miners to gain entry to the Yukon Territory’s Klondike region by braving the White Pass, running parallel to the more treacherous Chilkoot Pass to the north. Francois and Perrault leave Buck in Skaguay so that he can haul mail, and later on Buck is sold away here to the abusive American trio. After departing with them, it is the last time he visits this coastal city. The creation of a railroad through Skaguay at the turn of the century brought hordes of people, causing its popularity to quickly rise.
Cassiar Bar: Location of a small settlement in the Yukon Territory directly on the Yukon River. Buck’s sled team rests here after traveling for many miles with the Scotch half-breed, hauling heavy loads of mail.
Circle City: A riverside settlement located in northeastern Alaska about two hundred miles way from Dawson City, further up along the Yukon River; named after early settlers who thought Circle City was in the Arctic Circle. Today the small settlement is known simply as Circle, Alaska. During the Klondike Gold Rush, hordes of settlers left Circle City to go further south into the Yukon Territory near Dawson City, where the gold discoveries were most concentrated. Buck defends John Thornton when he is attacked in a saloon at Circle City.
Forty Mile Creek: A dangerous river in the Yukon Territory where John Thornton nearly drowns. Buck comes to the rescue, however, and they are both pulled ashore by John Thornton’s partners, Pete and Hans.
Stewart River: A river located in the unsettled regions of the Yukon Territory south of Dawson City, flowing eastward parallel to the Klondike River. The Stewart River branches off of the Yukon River. Thornton follows the Stewart River in search of gold, riding along the river in a raft until it ends, after which he and his companions set off on foot.
Yukon Territory: First explored in 1846 by the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Yukon Territory of Canada is located east of Alaska, West of the Northwest Territories, and north of British Columbia; from the Loucheux word ‘Yukunah,’ meaning ‘great river,’ because the Yukon River is so large. Originally controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company, the territory was acquired by Canada in 1870, at first as part of the Northwest Territories. The Klondike Gold Rush, centering upon the Klondike River in this region, brought thousands of new settlers and business investors to the Yukon Territory. In 1898, due to this sudden influx of people, the Yukon was made into a separate territory, with Dawson City serving as its capital. Although parts of the Yukon Territory are settled, much of it remains untamed and wild, as Buck soon realizes during his travels.
Hudson’s Bay Company: A fur-trading company based in central Canada, established in 1670, still in existence as a corporation in Canada today. A Hudson’s Bay Company expedition led by John Bell explored the Yukon in 1845, after which trading posts were established throughout the region to make way for a new wave of business, exporting furs to customers in the east. In 1870, the Hudson’s Bay Company was forced to surrender its holdings to Canada which included the Yukon and much of central Canada. John Thornton later discovers an old rifle from the days of the Hudson’s Bay Company in a dilapidated old cabin when he is searching for gold deep in the Yukon Territory.
Buck’s father was the beloved St. Bernard that belonged to Judge Miller in the pastoral hills of the Santa Clara Valley in California, and his mother was a great German Shepherd. Judge Miller owns a huge mansion complex with other dogs, horses, stables, vineyards. Buck loves this calm existence, carrying the Judge’s grandchildren on his back and serving as the Judge’s faithful companion, as his father had been before him. However, one summer day in 1897, the Judge’s gardener unjustly sells him for a meager price, and from there the brave dog begins a long journey ending in Dyea, Alaska. Buck is sold away to a Canadian pair named Perrault and Francois in need of sled dogs. Arriving on the mainland, Buck encounters many obstacles in this cold, icy place quite unlike where he grew up. Among these obstacles is the cruelty of many humans, other vicious dogs, and the cold weather itself. With these two Canadians, Buck forges a relationship of respect, pulling them from the Yukon Territory where the Klondike Gold Rush is raging, to Alaska, since Perrault is a special messenger for the Canadian government.
After Buck sees his dog friend Curly torn to pieces by the other sled dogs, he learns that life now is a basic matter of day to day survival. As Buck becomes wiser as a sled dog, he plots his revenge against another bully dog named Spitz, eventually killing him in battle. Perrault makes Buck the new sled team leader, until the Canadians receive new orders, leaving this sled team behind. The dogs are instead put to work at Dawson City hauling mail from the miners. This is much harder work, and Buck quickly grows tired of it, as do the other dogs, since they do not get any rest at all. Finally arriving in Skaguay, Alaska after traveling for thousands of miles without any rest at all, Buck’s sled team comes under new ownership yet again, this time to three inexperienced American pioneers named Charles, Hal, and a woman, Mercedes.
These people know nothing about traveling through the Northland, and they badly mistreat Buck. Fortunately, Buck is saved by John Thornton after a terrible beating from Hal because he says that he is too tired to pull the sled any more. In reality, he felt a sense of “impending doom,” and simply refused to lead his team to danger. He knew that the ice was weak and that they would be traveling over a river.
Hal, Charles, Mercedes, and the surviving dogs in the sled team all drown as the trail beneath them collapses suddenly. Thornton then gives Buck exactly what he has been yearning for: a long rest. Nursed back to health, Buck grows strong again as spring arrives, filled with love for this man who saved his life. He goes on many travels with John, saves him from drowning in a wild river, and eventually wins him a large sum of money. Thornton invests this award in an expedition to the north to discover a secret gold mine. Buck happily accompanies him, excited to be exploring a new frontier, and this journey ends when John Thornton locates a stream where the gold glistens “like yellow butter.”
At this point, Buck becomes very restless. Thornton and his partners are busy mining the gold, so Buck ventures out to explore the forest himself, following an inner voice within him that is the “call of the wild,” encouraging him to hunt prey just like his wolfish ancestors. Yet his love for John Thornton is stronger than the call of the wild, pulling him away from the forest periodically, as on one occasion when he befriends a wild wolf, running with him through the trees, and as he runs back to Thornton’s camp, the wolf howls mournfully for him to stay. More time passes, and Buck decides to hunt the largest moose in a passing herd, spending days on this expedition, waiting patiently for the proper moments to attack, until finally the monstrous beast is pulled down. Buck stays for awhile, munching the carcass and resting, before he returns to the camp as he had done so many times before. This time, however, everyone in the camp, including John Thornton, has been murdered by the Yeehats. Flying into a rage, Buck ravages these men, tearing their throats and roaring with madness.
Buck wonders what to do next now that John is dead, while nevertheless gloating over the fact that he has killed men. A nearby wolf howl captures his ears, and he follows the sound to an approaching wolf pack, battling several of these creatures to prove his worth, and is accepted as one of their own. He is reunited with his old wolf friend and runs into the forest, wild once more after generations of oppression at man’s hands. Buck becomes a legend, murdering hunters and Yeehats in the forest, referred to as the “Evil Spirit” and the “Ghost Dog,” spawning a new breed of wolf. Overall, The Call of the Wild conjures up a lost world, filled with people and place names that were so common at the turn of the twentieth century, but which have since faded away into history, lost and forgotten. It is by reading Buck’s story that one can once more remember life as it was, digging up this hidden wealth from deep caves of time.
Jack London is a man who is often misunderstood because of the complexity of his life. Considered by some to be oozing with shallow virility and machisimo, London is instead a man filled with sensitivity and wisdom about the human condition. Born on January 12, 1876 to the unmarried Flora Wellman and William Chaney in San Francisco, California, John Griffith Chaney was renamed John Griffith London, later called “Jack,” when William denied that he was his father, and Flora instead married John London, Jack’s stepfather. His early years were spent in San Francisco, where he began reading classic stories at the age of eight, an interest that would only continue to spread when th London family moved to nearby Oakland two years later. Jack continued to attend school and took on a number of different jobs ranging from a newspaper route, being an oyster pirate in San Francisco Bay, and a factory laborer. After graduating from the eighth grade in 1890, London toured the country, marching with a labor union to Washington, DC, and then wandering around the northeast as a hobo, meeting new friends in Boston and Buffalo.
After returning to Oakland, Jack was determined to complete his education, enrolling in Oakland High School, where he is a prolific writer for the school’s newspaper. Later he became interested in the Socialist Party, influenced no doubt by his days as a factory laborer, and this anti-capitalist political philosophy would shape his later writing as well. Eventually London went to the University of California at Berkeley in 1896. Impoverished and disappointed with academic life, London dropped out of college soon after, heading northward to Alaska where the Klondike Gold Rush is in full swing. He returned after a short time, empty-handed and discouraged by the rugged, icy weather. Jack made a return trip later that year, reaching the Yukon Territory but he did not find any gold. Empty-handed, Jack went back to his mother again, who was struggling to survive after her husband’s sudden death. Jack London became the man of the house, writing furiously. Soon after, Jack was offered a steady job as a postal worker, but he turned it down in hope that he could support himself solely off of his writing. Fortune smiled upon him, however, when short story “To the Man on Trail” was published soon after in Overland Monthly in 1899.
After this initial victory, popularity came more easily to London. His short stories gained wider acceptance in the American reading community, as he forged the way for this new genre and a literary style moving away from the romanticism that filled the nineteenth century towards the realism of the twentieth. Filled with confidence, London published The Son of the Wolf, marrying his first wife Bessie in 1900. However, it was not until the serialized publication of Call of the Wild in the Saturday Evening Post during the summer of 1903 that London became a national sensation, separating from Bessie in favor of the new love of his life, Charmian. In 1904 London journeyed to Asia to serve as a war correspondent in the Russo-Japanese Warm, writing The Sea-Wolf among other works, publishing furiously upon his return, and involving himself in the Socialist Party of Oakland. Tired of urban life, London then bought a huge ranch complex in Glen Ellen, California, north of San Francisco, honeymooning soon after with Charmian in the Caribbean. He writes firsthand newspaper reports about the devastating San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, publishing White Fang soon after. By this time, London had enough money to build a magnificent boat named the Snark, fit to travel around the world, setting sail with his wife on a planned seven year world voyage in 1907. Venturing first to Hawaii, London met with the native headhunters there.
Suddenly afflicted by sickness, he had to cancel the rest of the planned trip and returned to California, much to his intense disappointment. He sold the Snark and spent time on his ranch in Glen Ellen for the next few years, publishing Martin Eden (1909), South Sea Tales (1911), and Smoke Bellow (1912). In 1912 he took a sea voyage around South America, but the following year brought great tragedy to Jack London’s life. His nearly completed dream mansion on the ranch property, Wolf House, burnt to the ground in a mysterious fire; his jealous ex-wife Bessie harassed him again; Charmian miscarried her pregnancy; and the ranch itself had a poor year for crops. He nevertheless published John Barleycorn (1913) and The Valley of the Moon (1914). In 1915 Jack went to Mexico as a news war correspondent during the Mexican Civil War, although the short war already over by the time he arrived there, much to his dismay. Returning to California, London wrote one more novel, The Star Rover, and also resigned from the Socialist Party he had worked for so devotedly throughout his life because of its lack of “fire and fight.” He succumbed to death on November 22, 1916, soon after eating his dinner. Passing away at the age of forty after hours of pain and with a doctor present, London’s official cause of death was kidney failure.
Overall, London wrote over fifty novels and dozens of short stories, although nothing was ever as popular as his initial The Call of the Wild (1903). Inspired by London’s own arduous journey from California to the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush, this book parallels London’s struggle to strip aside the excesses of his city upbringing, with Buck’s inward fight to survive. It took a second trip to Alaska before London was prepared to face the untamed wilderness, revealing that he had to overcome his inner fears first. Like Buck, London traveled the Chilkoot and the Dyea Pass, ending at the mining center of Dawson City. Near his death, when doctors urged London to quit drinking alcohol, stay indoors, and watch his diet, he ignored them and continued to live as he always had. A man most comparable to Ernest Hemingway in his craving for risk and adventure, Jack London would rather have lived fully, or rather not live at all. During his travels, London discovered a primal strength that he, like Thornton, can admire from afar, but which he can never have for himself. Like Thornton, London’s life ended early, silencing whatever bold dreams he had for the future, except for those glimpses of London’s fervent imagination one can gain in reading the colorful books that are this man’s greatest wealth.
Bedford/St. Martin’s Publisher – Fiction: Jack London. 21 August 2002.
Circle City, Alaska: The Official Site. 21 August 2002.
City of Dawson, Yukon Territory: Dawson City Community Profile.
Jack London Ranch Album, 2002. 21 August 2002.
“The Klondike Gold Rush.” Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest. 21 August 2002.
London, Jack. The Call of the Wild. Mahwah, New Jersey: Watermill Press, 1980.
Lundberg, Murray. Stampede Routes to the Klondike Gold. 21 August 2002.
Virtual Guidebook to the Northern Yukon. 21 August 2002.
Wissdorf, Reinhard. Jack London International, 1999. 21 August 2002.
Map of the Yukon Territory. 21 August 2002.