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Does the Dog Die in ‘The Call of the Wild’?

February 19, 2020
3 min read

The Call of the Wild‘ is a gritty tale of a man and a dog who form a bond of friendship in harsh conditions. John Thornton (played by Harrison Ford) is eager to capitalize on the Gold Rush and teams up with Buck, a freight hauler. Meanwhile, Buck’s story starts when he is stolen from his California home and sold into a life of hardship.

As John and Buck embark on their adventures, they rely on each other and develop a relationship based on trust and understanding. However, Buck also continues to enjoy his freedom and life in the wild. Based on Jack London’s book of the same name, the film ultimately becomes a study of domestication and natural instincts in an animal. The heartwarming tale remains one of the most important works of literature in the 20th century.

However, considering that Buck quickly becomes a favorite character whose journey is fraught with dangers, you might be wondering if Buck ends up dead at the end of the movie. The section below contains spoilers, but we understand if you want to avoid being triggered by seeing the death of a dog. Read on to find out what happens to Buck at the end of ‘The Call of the Wild’ and whether he dies or survives.

Does the Dog Die in ‘The Call of the Wild’?

Once Buck is in the wild, he has to tap into his primal instincts, as he locks heads with the other freight-hauling dogs. The leader of the pack and Buck have several confrontations, until the latter kills him, and becomes the new leader. Following this, Buck goes through some owners, until he meets some underprepared but cruel people, who beat Buck up, trying to get him to go on dangerously thin ice.

When Buck keeps refusing, Thornton steps in and cuts Buck loose. This marks the start of a bond between them where Buck is also torn between the love and loyalty to Thornton and his increasing love for the wild. While Buck continues to remain with Thornton, he spends more time away in the forest, where he hunts moose and bears, and even becomes friends with a wolf.

Although gone for long intervals, Buck makes it a point to always return to Thornton. Unfortunately, after one such excursion, Buck finds that Thornton is being attacked by Hal, who has managed to track him down. Hal shoots Thornton dead and lights the cabin on fire, but Buck interrupts him. The dog bravely tackles Hal, leading to the latter’s demise, as the cabin is burned to the ground. With his human friend dead, Buck goes into the forest to lead a life in the wilderness. He becomes the leader of a wolf pack.

We learn that Buck and his wolf friend raise a pack of their own, with each bringing their qualities to the new group. Despite having turned his back on human civilization, Buck keeps going to the valley once a year, to visit the site of the razed cabin, as a sign of loyalty to his friend, Thornton.

Therefore, while Buck, the dog, does not die in ‘The Call of the Wild’, he completely alters his life, from a pet dog to the leader of a wolf pack. He goes through several hardships, pain, and loss, to understand and find the meaning of his life, and where he truly belongs, in the world.

Read More: Is the Dog in Call of the Wild Real?

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