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Chapter Six - Part Two

Buck is unable to shed the notion that every master he is not a permanent one. Such has been the story of his life thus far, and the thought of losing his current master terrifies him. Thus, he is afraid to let the man out of his site. He is afraid that the man will prove to be as fleeting a part of life as Perrault or the Judge, and his fear extends to his dreams, the visions that haunt him at night. During these times, he goes to the opening of Thornton's tent, and watches the man asleep, engrossed in the movement of his chest as he breathes.
Despite this intense love, this civilizing influence, Buck's primitive nature refuses to be quieted. He remains a dog of the wild, a dog of the arctic come to sit with John Thornton at his fire, not to be pampered by him as a pet. Out of love for Thornton, he will not steal from him, but any other man does not receive this exception. He skillfully continues his wild ways, thieving from other men, fighting with other dogs, and fiercely, shrewdly, winning out. He maintains his superiority over other dogs the group comes across, and refuses to back down in a fight. He is merciless; having learned the law of club and fang, he cannot forget it. Instead, he shapes his life around it. He knows that he must master or be mastered; there is nothing in-between. Mercy means fear. Fear means death. Buck knows he must live by these rules in order to survive. He is older and wiser than his age indicates. He is able to connect the past with the present, and he recognizes the unending future ahead in the distance. He sits by the fire as a dog of John Thornton, but in the fire he sees the chain of dogs before and after him, dogs who are half-wolves, connected to their own masters, hungering and thirsting as he does, lying to sleep with him, dictating his moods, dreaming with him, and directing his very actions.
Each day these dreams, these directions, overcome him more and more. He often hears a call in the forest, a howl beckoning him to follow, and he runs to the call, only to succumb to his love for John Thornton, and return to his kindly master. Thornton, however, is the only thing drawing him back from the wild. Buck does not care for mankind, not even for Hans and Pete, Thornton's friends who have returned to get him. He tolerates them because they are friends of Thornton, but he does not experience an intimacy with them. The men realize Buck's feelings toward them, and understand. They treat him well, but do not expect him to love them as he loves Thornton. Buck's love for Thornton, however, only grows. Nothing the man asks is too much for Buck. At one point, Thornton jokingly asks Buck to jump over a cliff, and has to struggle, with the help of Hans and Pete, to keep him from going over. Thornton admits that a devotion this strong scares him, and his friends joke that they do not want to be the ones to lay a hand on him in Buck's presence.

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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