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The Call of the Wild
by Jack London
The Call of the Wild Chapter 5 Summary
The dogs finally finish their exhaustive journey. They’re in a shoddy state. They meet characters who become their new owners: Hal, Charles, and Mercedes. These people (especially Mercedes) have enough luggage for about eight people because they don’t know how to pack light. These wise old guys watching Hal, Charles, and Mercedes pack all their stuff onto the sled keep insisting their sled's too heavy. Hal and Charles are arrogant, proud, and not so nice. They refuse to take advice, and the dogs aren’t able to pull the heavy load. Mercedes starts coddling the dogs, insisting that the men don’t hurt the dogs. Finally she throws out some stuff. Unfortunately, she keeps her hairdryer and nail polish and throws out food and water. They get going, but soon enough everyone starts to starve. The work's taken its toll on Buck, who's physically weaker and considerably less attractive than before this whole thing started. Billee gives up and falls over, so Hal kills him. More of the dogs die. On a more positive note, spring has arrived. But spring means thinner ice. Sound familiar? It does to Buck, and he refuses to lead the team onto the frozen water. A power struggle ensues. Hal beats him, but to no avail. This guy, John Thornton, happens to be sitting around watching this scene play out. Thornton threatens Hal with death if he doesn’t stop beating Buck. Thornton then cuts Buck free from the sled. Buck and Thornton watch as the entire sled—dog team and human drivers—continue on their way and then fall into the river. Buck licks Thornton’s hand, which means genuine affection, we are told.
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