Across the horizon: the rising sun and endless possibilities
 
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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Call of the Wild, The:
Chapter Five - Part Three

Mercedes experiences a unique misery - that of being forced to abandon all expectations of being treated as a lady. Beautiful and charming, she is accustomed to being treated like a member of the "fairer sex," but Hal and Charles have grown to find her demands nothing but annoying. She makes their lives unbearable. Now, completely inconsiderate of the dogs, she demands to ride on the sled, adding one hundred and twenty pounds to the load. Her weight proves to be the last straw for the tired and starving animals, and, after a few days, they refuse to move. Charles and Hal beg her to get off the sled, but she refuses. The two men lift her off the sled, and set off, leaving her limp in the snow. After three miles, they are forced to unload and go back to get her, replacing her in her throne.
The trio is now oblivious to the suffering of their dogs, having become completely hardened by the inhospitable arctic. Finally, the dog food runs out, and Hal is forced to trade his revolver for a few pounds of food for the animals. The food is scant and of poor quality, as it is mere horsehide, stripped off the backs of animals who themselves had starved to death. Old and frozen, the scraps make for an inadequate meal.
It is Buck, though, who endures the nightmare to its greatest extent. He leads the team when he can, and takes the beatings when he cannot. His coat has lost its gloss; it has become, instead, a mop of limp, straggly, hair, matted together with the remnants of dried blood. His muscles have wasted away, his frame is free from any traces of fat or padding, and his bones are clearly visible through his skin. Outwardly, he looks pathetic. His heart, however, remains unbroken; it remains as strong as the day the man in the red sweater first took a club to him. The rest of the team is in as pitiful a condition as Buck. The blows have become so constant that the animals are numb to them; each lash seems as dull as the next, each clubbing as distant as the one that immediately follows or precedes it. Their vision, their hearing, their very being has become dull and distant. They are not living; they are not even half-alive. They have become mere sacks of bones, lying down in exhaustion when possible, and capable of responding only to the periodic lash.
Finally, Billee cannot take it anymore. He falls in his tracks and is unable to get up. Hal, having traded his gun, uses his axe to end Billee's life, and to cut his body off the harness. All the team watches, well aware that each of them is on the verge of meeting the same fate. The next day, it is Koona who dies, and now only five dogs are left. Of these remaining dogs, nearly all are on the brink of collapse. Even Buck is half-blind with exhaustion and hunger, leading only by the dull feel of his feet on familiar ground. By now it is spring, and the weather has warmed up and turned beautiful, yet no one notices. The days are becoming longer, the sun shining down on the team for great stretches, and the renewal of life fills the air. A murmur of rebirth vibrates throughout the wild, awakening nature's pulse and singing to the reappearing animals. Birds sing during the day and crickets sing all night. The forest is coming back to life. As the earth warms, the ice that has imprisoned the tundra for so many months starts to give way. Streams escape from the land; fountains trickle in the backdrop. In the midst of this rebirth, this thunderous arrival of life, five dogs and three humans plod their way along the trail, their proximity to death even more obvious in contrast to the vibrant life growing around them.

Browse all Studyworld Studynotes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter One - Part One
Chapter One - Part Two
Chapter Two - Part One
Chapter Two - Part Two
Chapter Three - Part One
Chapter Three - Part Two
Chapter Four - Part One
Chapter Four - Part Two
Chapter Five - Part One
Chapter Five - Part Two
Chapter Five - Part Three
Chapter Five - Part Four
Chapter Six - Part One
Chapter Six - Part Two
Chapter Six - Part Three
Chapter Six - Part Four
Chapter Seven - Part One
Chapter Seven - Part Two
Chapter Seven - Part Three
Chapter Seven - Part Four


 

 



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