Part one: The beginning of the story takes place in Santa Clara Valley, California during the gold rush of 1896. Buck lives with his owner, Judge Miller, in an expensive house in the suburbs. Buck is loved by Miller and his kids and grandkids. He feels important, loved, and superior to all the other pets in the neighborhood.
But one day Buck is beaten, captured, and left in a crate on a train that sends him to Canada. Buck did not know why he was being taken away but he was furious. He was on the cold train with the kidnapper for two days with no food or water until they arrive in Seattle. Buck was angry and attacked a man. He was beaten and then finally given water. He stayed there until he was bought by a Canadian man named Perrault and put on a ship that delivered him to a man named Francois.
Part two: At the beginning of the story Buck is a dog that lives in the city and is fed by his owner. He loves the people he is with and the people love him. Buck is perfectly content with his situation until he is captured. Buck is beaten, starved, and has lost all the love and attention that he had previously had, but he starts to learn how to take care of himself. He isn’t really sad at first, he’s angry but he soon learns that if he follows the directions of those above him things will go well.
Buck seems to enjoy life more once he becomes the new leader of the group. He is proud of the faster time that he achieves. He starts thinking about his home more and more but still doesn’t feel homesick.
Towards the end of the story Buck really starts to become more acclimated to living without an owner. He starts to go into the woods and kill for food or for sport. The book says he even killed a bear and a moose. Even though Buck has this wild side he still comes back to the camp because he loves John. when John dies Buck spends all his time in the woods and joins a new pack. Buck has come full circle and is a wolf at heart but he still comes back to the place where John died to mourn and think about his other life.
Part three: The story begins with a young Saint Bernard and Scotch sheep dog mix, named Buck, living happily with his owner, Judge Miller. Buck is living a good life in an expensive house in Santa Clara, California. He is happy and loved where he is.
But one day while Judge Miller is away a gardener, named Manuel, kidnaps him and sells him to work in the gold rush. He is beaten, put in a crate on a train and is forced to ride in the train for two days with no food or water. When he finally gets let out of the crate, he is furious. He looks for anyone to attack and pounces at a man. The man hits him with a club but Buck keeps fighting until he is too hurt to fight any longer.
Once Buck stops fighting the man gives him food and water. This is where Buck realizes that even though he doesn’t want to be there and is angry at the man, you can’t bite the hand that feeds. He is sold again to a man named Perrault and his newfoundland named Curly and is taken onto a ship called the Narwhal which deliverers him to another man named Francois.
When Buck and Curly arrive at their destination they have developed a friendship from the boat ride. Curly approaches some huskies they attack her ripping her face open and trampling her. Men try to fight of the huskies but they were too late, Curly was already dead. This opens Buck’s eyes to how careful you have to be and how different this place is from his home.
Buck spots another dog named Spitz laughing at the death of his friend. He is angry but he knows better than to fight right after watching his friend die by the hand of other dogs. Later Buck is harnessed to a sled and learns what the commands mean and what to do. He also learns that Spitz is the lead sled dog. Later that day Perrault brings two more dogs to the camp. They are huskies and brothers named Billee and Joe. Billee is nice and kind while Joe is mean and has a short temper.
Spitz approaches the newcomers and Billee is ignoring him and taking the beating but Joe intervenes and Spitz leaves them alone. Another dog joins them that night, an old husky with one eye named Sol-leks. Buck confronts him with caution and Sol-leks slashes at him slicing his shoulder open. Sol-leks is immediately sorry because it was involuntary because Buck had approached him from his blind side.
Buck realizes what he had done and and they become friends. That night Buck can’t sleep because he is cold. He tries to go into the tent that the men have but he is kicked out. He feels something under is feet and realizes its a dog. He then digs a hole in the snow, covers it up, and is warmed from the heat of his breath trapped in the snow.
One night when Buck went to go get his dinner he finds spitz there so he attacks him the two fight for a while before a hundred huskies on the verge of dying from starvation interrupted the fight. The camp retreated and Francois thinks that the bites from the huskies could’ve infected the dogs. One Morning a dog named Dolly goes mad and attacks Buck and Francois is forced to kill her. They arrive a town and the tension between Buck and Spitz is increasing after he sided with another dog when Spitz was trying to lead them.
Buck finally gets pushed over the edge when Spitz steals a rabbit that Buck was chasing and the inevitable fight to the death begins. Spitz seems to have the upperhand in the fight. He is almost untouched while Buck is tired and dripping with blood. But Buck ultimately wins when he broke Spitz’s leg and the other dogs watch while he finishes him off, Driving home the point that he should be the new leader.
In the morning when Francois notices that Spitz is gone he decides to make Sol-eks the new leader. When Buck sees this he attacks Sol-leks but he happily backs down without a fight and Buck is crowned the new leader of the pack. He pushes the team to a faster record than Spitz had. They make it to their destination and Perrault a Francois are given orders to work elsewhere so Buck and the other dogs go back to their camp with a Scotsman.
When they get back to the camp they realize that a dog named Dave is very weak but he won’t rest. He would rather die pulling the sled but he collapses and they leave without him. When they return Dave is gone but the Scotsman follows Dave’s tracks and the other dogs hear the sound of a gunshot and they all knew it was for Dave.
The Scotsman replaces Buck and his team for younger dogs and sells them to two men named Charles and Hal. They are inexperienced and make stupid decisions. The first day they fill the sled too full and it won’t move. Mercedes, Charles’ wife refuses to leave anything behind. Someone eventually tells them to break the ice around the runners of the sled and it finally starts to move, but this does not last very long because when they start to go uphill everything falls off. Buck is so frustrated that he keeps running.
The bad decisions don’t stop there though they started feeding the dogs too much which left them short on food. The dogs manage to survive the lack of food until they get to a town called Five Fingers along the way bet the dogs are starting to get too weak to run and Billee dies of starvation. They barely make it to John Thornton’s camp and he tells Hal that he can’t go on the ice because it’s starting to melt and they could fall through.
Hal ignores him and tries to go anyway but Buck refuses to move because he knows the dangers of going on melting ice. Hal keeps whipping him but Buck wont move. John sees this and tells him he’ll kill him if he whips him again. Hal pulls out a knife but John knocks it out of his hands and cuts Buck loose. Hal and Charles leave without Buck and John watches as Hal, Charles, Mercedes, and all the other dogs break through the ice and are pulled into the cold water.
John slowly nurses Buck back to health and a bond starts to form between the two. Buck will obey any command because he trusts John and is thankful for John saving his life. John even tells Buck to jump off a cliff to test him. Buck starts running but John stops him before he can jump. He is also very protective of John because John protected him.
John tried to stop a bar fight once and someone treated him, but Buck latched onto his throat and killed him. His action was considered justified and he was praised for his loyalty. One day John claimed that Buck could a one-thousand pound sled by himself. Many people placed bets and one man bet one-thousand dollars that he couldn’t pull it. John was skeptical too but took the bet anyway and Buck pulled the sled one-hundred yards by himself.
John and Buck go to a place that is supposed to have a lot of gold and he earns thousands of dollars a day. One night while John is sleeping Buck goes out into the woods and sees a small wolf that he makes friends with he wants to follow him but he remembers John and goes back.
Buck starts to stay in the woods more and more often but always comes back because of John. One day when he was coming back from the woods he finds John dead and shot with many arrows from some nearby Yeehat indians. Buck is filled with anger and starts killing them until they flee. Buck then decides to live in the wilderness since he is no longer tied down by John. He hears a wolf call and identifies it as the wolf he had become friends with so he joined their pack.
As the years pass the Yeehat indians notice that the wolves start to look different. The indians talk about a “ghost dog” that runs at the front of the pack, leading the others. They also talk about the valley where John Thornton died and how Buck comes there to mourn the loss of his friend.
Part four: This story compares the differences between the life of a tamed dog with an easy life and the life of a wild dog with trials and hardships. Even though Buck was always a domesticated dog he still made the transition into the wild.
This story shows us that all Buck needed to transition back into the way of his ancestors was to be fully immersed into their lifestyle. We also know that Buck was happy where he was even though he was fending for himself and his life was hard. He was missing his family and the people he loved but this lifestyle was in his blood.
London also shows the differences and similarities between the behavior of the people and the animals. For example, Hal was mean and almost beat Buck to death and John was kind and loved Buck. Also it took Buck’s anger to overcome Spitz’s anger and become the new leader. It helps us see the good and bad in people, animals, and the rest of the world.