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Chapter One - Part One

The book opens with a happy, oblivious Buck enjoying his days in the sunny Santa Clara Valley. He does not know that trouble is brewing. He does not know that a gold rush in the Arctic has sent thousands of men rushing to the North, and that all of these men are in demand for strong, heavy, furry dogs to accompany them on their journeys. He does not know that he will soon be forced to leave his home in California, and take on a whole new life in the arctic. Next, we hear Buck's history. Buck lives in Southern California, in the Santa Clara Valley, with a man named Judge Miller and his family. The house and estate are vast, and there are other dogs on the land, but Buck is the favorite and the most dominant. His father had been a large St. Bernard and Judge Miller's favorite, and his mother a Scotch shepherd dog. At four years old, he weighs 140 pounds. Though favored and pampered, he is strong and a rugged outdoor dog. He leads a life of lazy content as the flurry of northward travel begins.
One fall day in 1897, while the Judge is away at a meeting, Buck is taken by one of the gardener's helpers, a gambling man named Manuel. Buck trusts Manuel, because he has never experienced anything that would not make him trust the man, or any man at all, for that matter. Manuel then sells Buck to a stranger, who ties a rope around his neck and cruelly drags him off. As the rope tightens around Buck's neck, he is in great pain, as he has never been treated so roughly in his life. Buck growls at the man out of pride, but he is shocked at how painful the rope is. The rope tightens and Buck struggles against it, but he can do nothing. His tongue lolls out, his strength weakens, and he is powerless. Manuel throws him in a baggage car before Buck can even realize what is happening to him.
After being thrown in the car, Buck awakens very changed. He has traveled before, and knows that he is in a train, but has no clue where he is going. As he slowly opens his, his anger comes to fruition, and he springs at his captor. He leaps for the throat of one man, and only lets go when he himself is choked nearly to death. Dazed and in unspeakable pain, he is throw into a cage. He is afraid and cannot understand what is happening to him, and continues to lash out at the men as they taunt him. He wonders who these men are, and what they want with him. He experiences a sense of impending doom, and is haunted by his nightly dreams. He keeps expecting to see the Judge, or one of the children, but each time he peers out of his cage, he is greeted only by his captors. His captor, meanwhile, complains to a saloonkeeper on a stopover about how little he is making from the deal. Whereas the other captor gets a hundred dollars, he is only getting fifty for transporting the animal, and he says he would not do it over for a thousand dollars. The saloonkeeper laughs and tells him the dog is worth it.
Buck is transferred to an express car by four men, and for two days and two nights does not eat or drink a thing. His captors taunt him, and laugh as the dog flings himself up against the side of his cage in fury. Buck's mouth and throat become dangerously parched, and his eyes redden and become bloodshot. He has the appearance of a "raging fiend," and looks so different that he does not believe that the Judge would recognize him. The only thing he is happy about is that the rope has been removed, and he vows never to have a rope around his neck again.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter One - Part One
Chapter One - Part Two
Chapter Two - Part One
Chapter Two - Part Two
Chapter Three - Part One
Chapter Three - Part Two
Chapter Four - Part One
Chapter Four - Part Two
Chapter Five - Part One
Chapter Five - Part Two
Chapter Five - Part Three
Chapter Five - Part Four
Chapter Six - Part One
Chapter Six - Part Two
Chapter Six - Part Three
Chapter Six - Part Four
Chapter Seven - Part One
Chapter Seven - Part Two
Chapter Seven - Part Three
Chapter Seven - Part Four



 






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