Call of the Wild

In chapter 5 The Call of The Wild

And when the club or whip fell upon them, the spark fluttered feebly up, and they tottered to their feet and staggered on. What is Buck's life or spirt being compared to and why is this an apt image?

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THe dogs are being abused. Certainly there is an allusion to slavery here. They are whipped until they die. One by one the dogs fall. Charles and Hal use their dogs to exhaustion and then some without any compensation. This certainly sounds like slavery to me.