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The Call of the Wild
Chapter3
Air date 1903
Written by Jack London
Episode Guide Full chapter
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Chapter II: The Law of Club and Fang
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Chapter IV: Who Has Won to Mastership

The Dominant Primordial Beast is the third chapter in the The Call of the Wild

Summary

Plot

Buck turns to his primitive instincts more and more as he struggles to survive in the wild North. He avoids fights, but Spitz becomes a dangerous rival, showing his teeth whenever possible. One night, Buck settles down under the shelter of a rock, but when he goes to get his food, he finds the space occupied by Spitz. He springs upon Spitz, surprising him, and the two circle each other, preparing to fight, while Francois eggs Buck on. Just then, they hear Perrault shouting and see almost a hundred starving huskies charging into the camp. The wild dogs are so thin that their bones seem to be coming out of their skin, and they are mad with hunger. Buck is attacked by three huskies at once, and his head and shoulders are slashed; even as he fights the wild dogs, Spitz continues to nip at him. Eventually, outnumbered, the sled dogs run out onto the frozen lake and regroup in the woods. They are all badly hurt. In the morning, they make their way back to the camp but find no food there. Surveying the damage, Francois worries that the wild dogs were mad and that their bites may have infected the sled dogs, but Perrault doubts it.

Four hundred miles of trail remain, and the team reaches the most difficult stretch—frozen lakes and rivers where the surface is partially melted. At times they take great risks, and many of the dogs break through the ice and almost freeze to death or drown. Dolly, one of the dogs, goes mad one morning and begins chasing Buck. Francois kills the mad dog with an ax, and Buck is left exhausted from running. Spitz springs on him, but Francois attacks him with his whip. From then on, Buck and Spitz remain rivals engaged in an undeclared war. A fight to the death seems inevitable. Even Francois and Perrault realize it, with Francois betting on Buck and Perrault on Spitz. Before they reach Dawson, Buck threatens Spitz’s leadership by siding with the weaker dogs when Spitz tries to bring them into line. But no opportunity for a fight presents itself, and they arrive in the town with the outcome of the struggle still uncertain.

After a brief stopover in Dawson, the team pushes on toward Skaguay, with Buck’s insurrection against Spitz growing every day. One night the team spots a rabbit, and fifty dogs from the Northwest Police camp join in the hunt. Buck leads the pack, but Spitz, unbeknownst to Buck, leaves the pack and cuts across a narrow piece of land. Buck thinks that he will catch the rabbit but then sees Spitz cut him off. As Spitz’s jaw clamps down on the rabbit’s back, Buck drives into Spitz, and the two roll over and over in the snow. Buck realizes that they are locked in a battle to the death. Spitz is a practiced fighter and fends off Buck’s attacks patiently. After a few minutes, Buck is dripping with blood, while Spitz is virtually untouched. Spitz begins to rush him, but Buck tricks his rival, faking a rush against the other dog’s shoulder and then diving for the leg, instead, and breaking it. Crippled, Spitz soon goes down and, as the other dogs gather to watch, Buck finishes him off.