The Call of the Wild. Buck is a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life gets turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon in the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail-delivery dog sled team, Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime as he ultimately finds his true place in the world.
Who Is Who:
- Buck, the novel’s protagonist; a 140-pound St. Bernard–Scotch Collie mix who lived contentedly in California with Judge Miller. However, he was stolen and sold to the Klondike by the gardener’s assistant Manuel and was forced to work as a sled dog in the harsh Yukon. He eventually finds a loving master named John Thornton and gradually grows feral as he adapts to the wilderness, eventually joining a wolf pack. After Thornton’s death, he is free of humans forever and becomes a legend in the Klondike.
- Spitz, the novel’s main antagonist and Buck’s arch-rival; a white-haired husky from Spitsbergen who had accompanied a geological survey into the Canadian Barrens. He has a long career as a sled dog leader, and sees Buck’s uncharacteristic ability, for a Southland dog, to adapt and thrive in the North as a threat to his dominance. He repeatedly provokes fights with Buck, who bides his time.
- Dave, the ‘wheel dog’ at the back end of the dog-team. He is brought North with Buck and Spitz and is a faithful sled dog who only wants to be left alone and led by an effective lead dog. During his second down-trek on the Yukon Trail, he grows mortally weak, but the men accommodate his pride by allowing him to continue to drive the sled until he becomes so weak that he is euthanized.
- Curly, a large Newfoundland dog who was murdered and eaten by native huskies.
- Billee, a good-natured, appeasing husky who faithfully pulls the sled until being worked to death by Hal, Charles, and Mercedes.
- 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 smashed in by Francois as he struggles to stop her madness.
- Joe, Billee’s brother, but with an opposite personality— sour and introspective. Spitz is unable to discipline him, but Buck, after rising to the head of the team, brings him into line.
- Sol-leks (‘The Angry One’), a one-eyed husky who does not like being approached from his blind side. Like Dave, he expects nothing, gives nothing, and only cares about being left alone and having an effective lead dog.
- Pike, a clever malingerer and thief
- Dub, an awkward blunderer, always getting caught
- Teek and Koona, additional huskies on the Yukon Trail dog-team
- Skeet and Nig, two Southland dogs owned by John Thornton when he acquires Buck
- The Wild Brother, a lone wolf who befriends Buck
Major human characters:
- Judge Miller, Buck’s first master who lived in Santa Clara Valley, California with his family. Unlike Thornton, he only expressed friendship with Buck, whereas Thornton expressed love.
- Manuel, Judge Miller’s employee who sells Buck to the Klondike to pay off his gambling debts.
- The Man in the Red Sweater, a trainer who beats Buck to teach him the law of the club.
- Perrault, a French-Canadian courier for the Canadian government who is Buck’s first Northland master.
- François, a French-Canadian mixed race man and Perrault’s partner, the musher who drives the sled dogs.
- Hal, an aggressive and violent musher who is Mercedes’ brother and Charles’ brother-in-law; he is inexperienced with handling sled dogs.
- Charles, Mercedes’ husband, who is less violent than Hal.
- Mercedes, a spoiled and pampered woman who is Hal’s sister and Charles’ wife.
- John Thornton, a gold hunter who is Buck’s final master until he is killed by the Yeehats.
- Pete and Hans —John Thornton’s two partners as he pans for gold in the East.
- The Yeehats, a tribe of Native Americans. After they kill John Thornton, Buck attacks them, and eternally ‘dogs’ them after going wild—assuring they never re-enter the valley where his last master was murdered.