"The Call of the Wild" by Jack London, Chapters 6–7

In this action-packed adventure story, a domesticated dog must shed his civilized ways to become a proper sled dog during the Yukon Gold Rush. Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–2, Chapters 3–4, Chapter 5, Chapters 6–7

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definitions & notes only words
  1. expediency
    the quality of being suited to the end in view
    Other men saw to the welfare of their dogs from a sense of duty and business expediency; he saw to the welfare of his as if they were his own children, because he could not help it.
  2. transient
    lasting a very short time
    His transient masters since he had come into the Northland had bred in him a fear that no master could be permanent.
  3. primitive
    characteristic of an earlier ancestral type
    But in spite of this great love he bore John Thornton, which seemed to bespeak the soft civilizing influence, the strain of the primitive, which the Northland had aroused in him, remained alive and active.
  4. wily
    marked by skill in deception
    Faithfulness and devotion, things born of fire and roof, were his; yet he retained his wildness and wiliness.
  5. mandate
    a document giving an official instruction or command
    Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the depths of Time, he obeyed.
  6. peremptory
    not allowing contradiction or refusal
    So peremptorily did these shades beckon him, that each day mankind and the claims of mankind slipped farther from him.
  7. tolerate
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    When Thornton's partners, Hans and Pete, arrived on the long-expected raft, Buck refused to notice them till he learned they were close to Thornton; after that he tolerated them in a passive sort of way, accepting favors from them as though he favored them by accepting.
  8. malicious
    having the nature of threatening evil
    "Black" Burton, a man evil-tempered and malicious, had been picking a quarrel with a tenderfoot at the bar, when Thornton stepped good-naturedly between.
  9. array
    an impressive display
    Then the crowd was upon Buck, and he was driven off; but while a surgeon checked the bleeding, he prowled up and down, growling furiously, attempting to rush in, and being forced back by an array of hostile clubs.
  10. provocation
    a means of arousing or stirring to action
    A "miners' meeting," called on the spot, decided that the dog had sufficient provocation, and Buck was discharged.
  11. hinder
    prevent the progress or accomplishment of
    "I've got a sled standing outside now, with twenty fiftypound sacks of flour on it," Matthewson went on with brutal directness; "so don't let that hinder you."
  12. privilege
    a right reserved exclusively by a person or group
    O'Brien contended it was Thornton's privilege to knock the runners loose, leaving Buck to "break it out" from a dead standstill.
  13. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    His whole body was gathered compactly together in the tremendous effort, the muscles writhing and knotting like live things under the silky fur.
  14. diminished
    made to seem smaller or less, especially in worth
    The jerks perceptibly diminished; as the sled gained momentum, he caught them up, till it was moving steadily along.
  15. incoherent
    without logical or meaningful connection
    Men were shaking hands, it did not matter with whom, and bubbling over in a general incoherent babel.
  16. upstanding
    meriting respect or esteem
    They sledded seventy miles up the Yukon, swung to the left into the Stewart River, passed the Mayo and the McQuestion, and held on until the Stewart itself became a streamlet, threading the upstanding peaks which marked the backbone of the continent.
  17. boundless
    seemingly limitless in amount, number, degree, or extent
    To Buck it was boundless delight, this hunting, fishing, and indefinite wandering through strange places.
  18. vague
    not clearly understood or expressed
    It caused him to feel a vague, sweet gladness, and he was aware of wild yearnings and stirrings for he knew not what.
  19. tangible
    perceptible by the senses especially the sense of touch
    Sometimes he pursued the call into the forest, looking for it as though it were a tangible thing, barking softly or defiantly, as the mood might dictate.
  20. unwonted
    out of the ordinary
    Buck stalked into the open, half crouching, body gathered compactly together, tail straight and stiff, feet falling with unwonted care.
  21. pertinacity
    persistent determination
    But in the end Buck's pertinacity was rewarded; for the wolf, finding that no harm was intended, finally sniffed noses with him.
  22. frenzy
    state of violent mental agitation
    John Thornton was eating dinner when Buck dashed into camp and sprang upon him in a frenzy of affection, overturning him, scrambling upon him, licking his face, biting his hand--"playing the general tom-fool," as John Thornton characterized it, the while he shook Buck back and forth and cursed him lovingly.
  23. inherited
    occurring among members of a family usually by heredity
    From his St. Bernard father he had inherited size and weight, but it was his shepherd mother who had given shape to that size and weight.
  24. formidable
    extremely impressive in strength or excellence
    His cunning was wolf cunning, and wild cunning; his intelligence, shepherd intelligence and St. Bernard intelligence; and all this, plus an experience gained in the fiercest of schools, made him as formidable a creature as any that intelligence roamed the wild.
  25. asunder
    into parts or pieces
    Life streamed through him in splendid flood, glad and rampant, until it seemed that it would burst him asunder in sheer ecstasy and pour forth generously over the world.
  26. wanton
    unprovoked or without motive or justification
    He killed to eat, not from wantonness; but he preferred to eat what he killed himself.
  27. envelop
    enclose or enfold completely with or as if with a covering
    Buck multiplied himself, attacking from all sides, enveloping the herd in a whirlwind of menace, cutting out his victim as fast as it could rejoin its mates, wearing out the patience of creatures preyed upon, which is a lesser patience than that of creatures preying.
  28. slake
    satisfy, as thirst
    Nor did he give the wounded bull opportunity to slake his burning thirst in the slender trickling streams they crossed.
  29. certitude
    complete assurance or confidence
    He broke into the long easy lope, and went on, hour after hour, never at loss for the tangled way, heading straight home through strange country with a certitude of direction that put man and his magnetic needle to shame.
  30. calamity
    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
    He was oppressed with a sense of calamity happening, if it were not calamity already happened; and as he crossed the last watershed and dropped down into the valley toward camp, he proceeded with greater caution.
  31. usurp
    seize and take control without authority
    For the last time in his life he allowed passion to usurp cunning and reason, and it was because of his great love for John Thornton that he lost his head.
  32. void
    an empty area or space
    It left a great void in him, somewhat akin to hunger, but a void which ached and ached, and which food could not fill, At times, when he paused to contemplate the carcasses of the Yeehats, he forgot the pain of it; and at such times he was aware of a great pride in himself,--a pride greater than any he had yet experienced.
  33. migrate
    move periodically or seasonally
    Hunting their living meat, as the Yeehats were hunting it, on the flanks of the migrating moose, the wolf pack had at last crossed over from the land of streams and timber and invaded Buck's valley.
  34. discomfit
    cause to lose one's composure
    And so well did he face it, that at the end of half an hour the wolves drew back discomfited.
  35. mournful
    filled with or evoking sadness
    Here a yellow stream flows from rotted moose-hide sacks and sinks into the ground, with long grasses growing through it and vegetable mould overrunning it and hiding its yellow from the sun; and here he muses for a time, howling once, long and mournfully, ere he departs.

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