Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

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What type of master is Perrault to Buck in The Call of the Wild?

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Perrault knows just about everything there is to know about what makes a good sled dog. And in Buck, he sees huge potential: this dog is one in a million. But raw talent's not enough; Buck needs appropriate guidance if he's to be the best he can be. That's where Perrault comes in. He cracks the whip, both literally and metaphorically, driving Buck on to be the top dog he knows he can be. Perrault is Buck's mentor, teaching him all the tricks of the trade of life on the trail. That Buck ends up as such an excellent sled dog is in no small part down to Perrault and his years of experience.

That said, the relationship between Perrault and Buck is not especially close. Perrault is an old hand at this; he's seen countless dogs come and go and so doesn't get emotionally attached to any of them. This is a business and Buck's just a commodity, something to be bought and sold. A very valuable commodity, perhaps, but a commodity all the same.

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The story suggests that Perrault treats his dogs fairly and impartially. He ensured that all his dogs were fed and allowed an extra portion for Buck. However, Perrault favored Spitz with regards to dominance among the dogs. He did not view Buck as a worthy challenger to the position held by Spitz as the lead dog. However, his preferences did not impact how he treated Buck or the other dogs. At one point, Perrault inspected Buck’s paws after a tough journey on the cold landscape.

Despite his shock, after Buck emerged victorious over Spitz in the death fight, Perrault accepted Buck’s position among the dogs.

Although Perrault had a favorite among the dogs, he was more focused on performing his duties, and this forced him to push all the dogs to deliver equally.

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