Who was the "ghost dog" and why is he called that?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Buck is the "Ghost Dog," who torments the Yeehat Indians after they slaughter his beloved owner, John Thorton. In the last chapter of the story, the Yeehat Indians murder Buck's master, John Thorton, and he responds by wreaking havoc on the entire tribe. Following the death of his master, Buck abides the call of the wild and enters the wilderness, where he defeats a pack of savage wolves. Buck allows his primitive instincts to flourish as he becomes the leader of the pack and the Yeehats begin to notice a change in the breed of timber wolves, which now have splashes of brown on their head and muzzle with a rift of white centering down their chest. They also notice the presence of a Ghost Dog, which has extraordinary cunning and stealth. The Ghost Dog steals from their camps, ambushes their hunters, robs their traps, and slays their dogs. The Ghost Dog is virtually undetectable and defies even their best hunters. Overall, Buck is the enigmatic Ghost Dog, who has become legendary for terrorizing the Yeehat tribe and ruling the surrounding wilderness.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The “ghost dog” is a beast that is talked about by the Yeehat Indians. They talk about him as being a ghost because they only see glimpses of him and no one is totally certain that he exists.

After Buck’s disappearance into the wild, they talk about a change in the appearance of the timber wolves they see. It appears that Buck had been breeding with the wolves, as they started to be seen “with splashes of brown on head and muzzle, and with a rift of white centering down the chest.”

They talked about a wolf who would lead the pack and who lived in a place where streams of yellow flowed “from rotted moose-hide sacks,” clearly the place where John Thornton was killed. This special wolf is bigger than the other wolves and is even suspected of killing lost hunters who wander into the valley where Thornton was killed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial