Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

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What events occur in chapter four of The Call of the Wild?

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On the morning following Buck and Spitz's vicious fight, François notices that Spitz is missing and places Sol-leks as the lead dog, which is something Buck is unwilling to accept. Buck attacks Sol-leks several times before François welds a club that prevents Buck from attacking Sol-leks. However, François and Perrault relent and fasten Buck to the lead position. Buck proves to be an excellent lead dog and the team makes record time from Thirty Mile River to Skaguay. In Skaguay, François and Perrault are given official orders to leave the region, and the two men part ways with Buck and their team.

Buck is then sold to another courier and makes the arduous journey to Dawson without adequate rest. Along the way, Buck begins to see visions of primitive human ancestors and begins hearing the call of the wild. An "experienced wheeler" dog named Dave becomes ill during the journey and is taken out of the traces. Sol-leks replaces Dave's position, and the extremely ill dog follows alongside the sled until the Scotsman is forced to shoot him the next morning.

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In chapter 4, “Who Has Won to Mastership,” Buck takes over as leader of the dog pack after killing his  canine rival, Spitz. Buck has to prove to Francois and Perrault that he is the best dog for the position, but eventually they relent, strap him in as lead dog, and the pack makes record time on the trail. When the team sails into Skaguay, Francois and Perrault are reassigned, and another man described as a “Scotch half-breed” takes charge of the team and runs them without adequate rest. This man is nameless, showing that men are transient in Buck’s life.

Buck enjoys the campfire at night and begins to connect to his primitive self. His memories of the Judge’s house grow dim, and he begins to see a caveman-like creature in the flames. His visions suggest Buck will heed the call of the wild. As the team toils toward Dawson, Dave gets sick and is shot by the new owner. The dogs hear only the gun shot, but know what happened to Dave.

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