Author: Jack London
Illustrator: Ann Weibel
Title: Call Of The Wild
Main Characters (Name And Description):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8. John Thorton~
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.
Starting Place: Santa Clara Valley
Main Problem: The main problem is the struggle between civilization and the wild.
Action Sequence: Buck is a 140-pound, 4 year old dog living in Santa Clara Valley. Buck and the other dogs arrive at Dyea beach where their first days were described as a nightmare. Buck becomes increasingly cunning in his behavior. He avoids fights, but his hatred for Spitz encreases as the dog continues to goad him. Francois understands what is happened when Spitz doesn't appear in the morning. As the men make ready to harness the dogs, Buck steps into the place Spitz has previously occupied. Three days after they leave Dawson, Buck and the team arrive at Skaguay completely worn out. John Thornton had frozen his feet the previous winter and stayed in the camp by the river to recuperate while his partners took a raft to Dawson. Buck's successful hauling of the 1,000-pound sled earns $1600 for John Thornton in just a few minutes. The money allows Thornton and his partners to pay their debts and to begin a journey to a lost mine thought to be somewhere in the East.