Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

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What is the Law of Club and Fang in The Call of the Wild?

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The Law of Club and Fang in "The Call of the Wild" refers to the primitive survival rules that govern a dog's interactions with humans and other dogs. Buck learns this law by experiencing the brutality of humans wielding clubs and witnessing the savage behavior among dogs. It signifies the necessity for Buck to avoid armed men and defend himself from other animals to survive in the wilderness.

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The law of club and fang refers the primitive laws of nature and necessary survival skills for a dog's relationship with man and other dogs. Buck must learn this essential law in order to survive in the treacherous Northland.

After being savagely beaten with a club by the man in the red sweater, Buck is exposed for the first time to the brutal relationship between man and dog. He learns that the club is a powerful weapon that he must avoid in order to remain healthy. Buck is no match for a man with a club and adapts his behavior to avoid being beaten. In chapter 2, Buck witnesses a female dog named Curly accidentally stumble during a fight, which is a fatal mistake as she is savagely ripped apart by the surrounding pack of dogs. Buck realizes the importance of defending oneself and learns that there is no fair play in the wilderness. Civility no longer exists in the wilderness, and Buck must rely upon his instincts and physical abilities to survive.

The law of club and fang signifies the two most important factors for survival in the Northland: Buck's ability to avoid armed men and his ability to defend himself from other animals. 

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For one thing, the Law of Club and Fang is the title of Chapter 2.  But beyond that, it is what Buck finds when he is taken away from Judge Miller's estate.

When Buck meets the man in the red sweater, he learns about the law of the club.  He learns that a man with a club is likely to be willing and able to force Buck to do his bidding.  This kind of treatment is unlike any he has ever seen before.

When he gets to Alaska and is put among the other dogs, he finds out about the law of the fang -- whoever can fight will be able to enforce their will.

So this law is basically the idea that the strong will control the weak.  There is no more civilized behavior where Buck is now -0- the strong rule and the weak must obey or die.

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