Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Buck's owners in The Call of the Wild


Buck's owners in The Call of the Wild include Judge Miller, who initially owns him in California. He is then sold to a man named Manuel and subsequently passes through the hands of various owners such as Perrault and Francois, Hal, Charles, and Mercedes, and finally John Thornton, who treats him with great kindness and respect.

Expert Answers

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

Who were Buck's owners in The Call of the Wild and who was the best?

Buck has quite many owners before he finally surrenders to the wild. His first owner is Judge Miller. He and his family treat Buck well. Buck spends his days playing around the home, “hunting with the Judge’s sons," or going for long walks with the Judge’s daughters. Manuel, an assistant gardener to the Judge, then steals and sells Buck to some dog traders, who finally sell him to Francois and Perrault, who work as mail couriers. These two are generally good owners who, however, do not hesitate to make use of the club or whip to “demand instant obedience” and service from their dogs. While with the two, Buck is transformed from a “civilized” dog to a dog that understands the “law of club and fang.” He learns how to pull a sled, keep warm in the night by burying himself in the snow, and how to protect himself from other dogs.

Next, Buck is passed over to a Scotch half-breed who keeps him for a short time before selling him to Hal, Charles, and Mercedes who are, by far, Buck’s worst owners. The trio has little experience using dog sleds on the trail, and end up losing almost half of their dogs due to this. They are cruel dog handlers, especially Hal who continuously whips the dogs. Buck is rescued from the trio by John Thorton, who is the last of his owners.

Buck adores John Thorton who is a loving owner and excellent dog handler. Even his dogs are described as “having the kindliness and largeness” of their master. John takes care of his dogs as if “they are his own children.” In fact, Buck so adores John that he cannot stand being away from him. Thus, John Thorton is the best of Buck’s owners.

When John Thorton dies at the hands of the Yeehats, Buck finally surrenders to the “call of the wild.”

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who were Buck's owners, in order, in The Call of the Wild?

In the opening of the novel, Buck is owned by Judge Miller and lives a life that could certainly be seen as enviable by any other dog. Buck's life as the judge's dog is pampered, carefree, and devoid of any hardship, and serves as a contrast for the hardship that he will come to endure.

After he is stolen and sold to settle a gambling debt, Buck is briefly owned by a "man with a red sweater," who is not named to symbolize his detachment and cruelty. He mistreats Buck, effectively cowing him.

Soon after he is sold to Francois and Perrault, who are two dispatchers operating in the Yukon region. Under their training, Buck becomes an effective sled dog. This is perhaps the section of the story wherein Buck finds his first true sense of belonging, even becoming lead dog.

Eventually, when they receive different assignments, Francois and Perrault sell Buck to the Scotch half-breed, another vaguely named character who demands an incredibly heavy workload from Buck. The Scotch half-breed works his dogs miserably, to the point that too many of his dogs die to continue.

He sells his remaining three, including Buck, to Mercedes, Charles, and Hal, an inexperienced and ignorant family completely unprepared to face the harsh north. They are abusive to Buck and almost cause his death by demanding that he pull the sled over ice, but Buck is rescued in time by John Thornton, who becomes his owner for life.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who were Buck's owners, in order, in The Call of the Wild?

Buck's first owner is Judge Miller, who lives in the sunny Santa Clara Valley. Buck enjoys his carefree life on the "sun-kissed" estate, where he rules over the territory and goes on playful hunting trips with Judge Miller's grandchildren. Unfortunately, Buck is stolen by Judge Miller's gardener Manuel, who takes him to Seattle, where Buck is broken by a brutal man in a red sweater. Buck is then sold to two French-Canadians named Francois and Perrault. Francois and Perrault are experienced mail couriers, who drive their sled dogs through the unforgiving Northland. Under Francois and Perrault's care, Buck develops into a skillful sled dog and helps the sled team break records. Both Francois and Perrault are depicted as humane, respectful owners, who value their dogs but push them hard to make deliveries.

In Skaguay, Buck is sold to another mail courier called the Scotch half-breed. Buck suffers under the Scotsman's care and is exhausted from carrying extremely heavy loads. Unlike Francois and Perrault, the Scotsman is not humane and pushes the dogs to their limits. Buck is sold once again to an inexperienced group of owners named Hal, Charles, and Mercedes. They are depicted as ignorant, cruel owners, who exhaust their dogs and place them in compromising, dangerous situations. Fortunately, John Thornton saves Buck from meeting a disastrous fate with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes as they proceed to break through the thin ice.

John Thornton becomes Buck's last owner, and he thrives under his care. John Thornton is portrayed as a loving, sincere master, who truly cares about Buck's well-being. Buck and John Thornton have an amazing relationship founded on love, loyalty, and respect. Buck accompanies John Thornton on many adventures, and John is depicted as the ideal master. Tragically, John Thornton is murdered by a group of Yeehat Indians, and Buck eventually submits to the call of the wild following his death. By the end of the story, Buck runs free in the wilderness with the wolves.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who were Buck's owners, in order, in The Call of the Wild?

Buck's first owner is Judge Miller.  The offspring of a St. Bernard who had been "the Judge's inseparable companion", Buck lives an idyllic life during his youth on a California ranch (Ch.1).

Buck is then stolen from the Judge by Manuel, one of his ranch hands.  Manuel, in order to pay his gambling debts, sells the dog on the black market to two French-Canadian mail couriers, Perrault and Francois.  Perrault and Francois are humane owners, but make a couple of extremely grueling runs with their team.  After returning from the final run, they sell the team to a Scotch half-breed, who also works the mail.  Buck learns the laws of survival while working on the delivery trails, and eventually vanquishes the lead dog on the team and demands to take his place.

The team is next sold to Hal, Mercedes, and Charles, who plan to use the dogs to take part in the Gold Rush in the Klondike.  The trio is inexperienced and cruel, and eventually meet their demise when they fall into a semi-frozen lake after disregarding warnings that it would be dangerous to proceed upon it.  Buck is saved just before the fatal run by John Thornton, who becomes his final owner.

John Thornton is "the ideal master" (Ch.VI).  Buck serves him with unquestioning devotion until Thornton is killed by Indians.  After Thornton's death, Buck submits competely to the call of his wild ancestors, and leaves the world of man to run with the wolves.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are Buck's new owners in The Call of the Wild?

Buck's original owner is Judge Miller, in Santa Clara California. 

Buck is kidnapped by Manuel, and sold on the black market to people sending dogs to the Alaska Gold Rush. 

Buck is bought by Perrault and Francois, defeats Spitz to become Perrault and Francois' lead dog. 

Then Perrault and Francois have to sell their dogs, and Buck is bought by an abusive mail runner. 

After one of the dogs in the team is Euthanized, Buck is sold to a family.  The family is inexperienced and endangers the dogs and themselves.  Buck is rescued from them by Joe Thornton. 

Joe Thornton treats Buck lovingly, and Buck helps Thornton in return.  They twice save each other's lives, and Buck helped Thornton win a bet that allowed him to find a Bonanza of a Gold Mine. 

Buck then is lured away from the mining camp by the "Call of the Wild."  He finds the source of the call to be a pack of Wolves.  However, he is lured back to the camp by his loyalty to Thornton.  Buck returns to find Thornton and his companions dead, and the camp looted by robbers. 

Buck hunts down and decimates the robbers.  He now has no owner, so he answers "The Call of the Wild," and joins the wolfpack as its Alpha Male. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on