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Copyright 1999

Created by Brian Thornton

Click here for more information Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA. POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved

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The Call of the Wild

Student Study Guide

Jack London

All answers must be in sentence form.

Chapter One-- Into the Primitive

  1. Why does Buck not read the newspaper?
  2. Locate Puget Sound and San Diego in an atlas.
  3. What is the yellow metal found in the Arctic darkness?
  4. Give a brief description of where Buck lives.
  5. What do they call the swimming pool?
  6. What is an antagonist and why would Manuel be referred to as an antagonist in this chapter?
  7. What year does the story take place?
  8. What is meant by the line, "If I don’t get the hydrophoby"?
  9. What was the final destination of the train on which Buck was placed in a cage?
  10. What was Buck’s introduction to primitive law?
  11. What is the Narwhal and where is it headed?
  12. Who are Perrault and Francois?
  13. When the ship’s propellers finally stop, what strange mushy substance does Buck encounter on the deck of the Narwhal?
  14. Locate Queen Charlotte Sound in an atlas.

Vocabulary: booming, poplar, veranda, array, artesian well, demesne, kennels, aristocrat, egotistical, progeny, eloquently, lacerated, unkempt, latent, pervaded.

Enrichment: Research the author Jack London. What other novels did he write? Read White Fang.

Chapter Two—The Law of Club and Fang

  1. Describe why Buck’s first day on Dyea beach was like a nightmare?
  2. Explain how the husky dogs fought differently from most dogs and more like wolves.
  3. Describe the tragedy that befell Curly.
  4. Why is Buck shocked when Francois fastens straps and buckles on him?
  5. What proof is there that Buck was an intelligent dog?
  6. Although Billee and Joe were from the same litter, they had very different characters. Describe their characters briefly.
  7. The name of the new dog was Sol-leks. What did the name mean?
  8. Why was Buck unable to sleep and how did he finally solve the problem?
  9. What would Buck eat for his daily rations?
  10. Why was Buck’s ability to steal food viewed by the author in a positive light?
  11. Would you be willing to surrender or give up things you believe to be morally right in order to survive?

Vocabulary: primordial, imperative, combatants, antagonist, assailants, virtue, cunning, intent, tuition, despatches, belligerent, diabolic, gaunt, prowess, retaliate, malingerer, peril, cadence.

Enrichment: Research the Chilkoot Pass in an encyclopaedia. Jack London spells it as Chilcoot. See which spelling you can locate it under.

Research the Klondike Gold Rush. You may also be able to find information about other gold rushes.

Chapter Three—The Dominant Primordial Beast

  1. Why did the "primordial beast" continue to grow in Buck?
  2. What finally drove Buck to attack Spitz?
  3. What made the dogs who invaded their camps so terrifying and fierce?
  4. Describe the condition of the dogs after the fight had ended.
  5. Locate Dawson in an atlas.
  6. What did Perrault mean by having "madness break out among his dogs"?
  7. Why would the Thirty Mile River require six days of exhausting toil to cover?
  8. Describe two ways that Francois attended to the needs of Buck’s tender feet.
  9. Why was Francois forced to kill Dolly?
  10. Why did Spitz decide that this was the time to attack Buck?
  11. Why were the other dogs no longer afraid of Spitz?
  12. Whom did you predict would win the final fight between Buck and Spitz?
  13. How has your opinion of Buck changed since the beginning of the story?
  14. Do you think that Buck will ever return to his home in California?

Vocabulary: dominant, poise, rashness, discarded, timid, famished, plight, shirks, wrath, abjectly, inexorable, flanks.

Enrichment: Research various breeds of dogs. Do some breeds of dogs have particular traits? For example, are some dogs more aggressive than others are or are they more aggressive simply because they have been trained to act that way?

Chapter Four—Who Has Won to Mastership

  1. Why did Francois state that they would now be able to make good time?
  2. Why did the two men have such a difficult time when they tried to harness Buck to the sled?
  3. Why were they able to travel out faster on the Thirty Mile River as opposed to going in?
  4. Find Skaguay (more commonly spelt Skagway) in an atlas.
  5. Who was Buck’s new owner?
  6. How does the author define instincts?
  7. What load were they pulling on the sled?
  8. Why do you think the men attended to the dogs every night before thinking of themselves?
  9. Describe what happened to Dave.
  10. Do you think the dogs really understood what had happened behind the belt of river trees?

Vocabulary: obdurate, deluged, aspired, riddled, boughs, lapsed, matted, resiliency, prey, morose, flounder, remnant, lugubriously, convulsive.

Enrichment: Pretend you are Jack London and that you have just completed writing The Call of the Wild. Write a letter to a publisher describing the book and attempting to persuade them that it is worth their while to publish it.

Chapter Five—The Toil of Trace and Trail

  1. How much weight had Buck lost by the time they arrived in Skaguay?
  2. Why were the dogs so tired?
  3. Describe the differing opinions held by Mercedes and Hal concerning their newly acquired dogs.
  4. Why were the dogs unable to pull the sled?
  5. Describe what happened once they got the sled moving.
  6. What advice were they given by the spectators who had been watching this whole fiasco?
  7. How many new dogs did Charles and Hal purchase for the team?
  8. How many previous times had Buck covered the distance between Salt Water and Dawson?
  9. How did Hal try to resolve the fact that he had miscalculated the amount of dog food required for the trip?
  10. What actions of Mercedes slowed down the dog team until they could no longer pull the sled?
  11. Whose camp did they stagger into at the mouth of the White River and what was the gentleman doing?
  12. Why did moisture come into John Thornton’s eyes?
  13. What did Thornton threaten to do if Hal continued his actions?
  14. What tragedy occurred at the end of this chapter?

Vocabulary: wretched, dwindled, feigned, taut, totter, slipshod, dismay, slovenly, remonstrance, clannish, suppress, superfluous, averred, mongrels, forlorn, orthodox, importuned, perambulating, fissures, monosyllabic, inarticulate.

Enrichment: Do you have an agency in your region that deals with cruelty to animals? Give some examples of what you might consider cruel treatment. Is putting animals in a zoo cruel? Why or why not?

Chapter Six—For the Love of a Man

  1. Why was Thornton limping slightly at the time he rescued Buck?
  2. What can you predict about this chapter based on the title?
  3. What were Thornton, Buck, Skeet and Nig waiting for?
  4. Why was Thornton an ideal master?
  5. Why could Buck never steal from John Thornton?
  6. Who were Hans and Pete?
  7. Describe the incident with Black Burton.
  8. Describe another incident on the river where Buck saves Thornton’s life.
  9. What did Thornton claim Buck could do?
  10. How did Matthewson call his bluff?
  11. How heavy a load do you think the strongest person in your class could pull on a sled?
  12. How much money did the Skookum Bench king offer for Buck?
  13. Why do you think John Thornton refused the offer?

Vocabulary: enticed, manifested, communion, shrewdly, passive, grubstaked, chasm, whim, appalled, diminished, hinder, waxed, babel, indiscreet.

Enrichment: Do research into survival in the wilderness. Do you think you have the knowledge to survive in temperatures that would drop to 40 or 50 below. What is the equivalent of 40 below Fahrenheit when measured in Celsius?

Chapter Seven—The Sounding of the Call

  1. Why was Thornton able to pay off his debts?
  2. They took months searching for what place?
  3. What did they finally manage to locate?
  4. What is the hairy man that Buck sees during his long hours musing by the fire?
  5. What noise causes him to spring from his sleep with a start?
  6. In one of his wanderings in the forest, Buck stumbles across a black bear and kills it. Do you think this could actually happen?
  7. Describe the incident with the bull moose.
  8. What horrific scene does Buck stumble upon in the forest?
  9. How does Buck react to the Yeehats?
  10. Who does Buck recognize when he encounters the pack of wolves in "his" valley?
  11. Does the end of the story surprise you? Explain why or why not?

Vocabulary: ramshackle, gnats, flintlock, obliterated, placer, washing pan, musing, salient, roved, impelled, frenzy, pertinacity, lope, vigil, remnants, carnivorous, sequential, usurp, sluice,

Enrichment: Why is The Call of the Wild a good title for this novel and what is the significance of the title in this story?

Jack London’s writings are often considered to be misanthropic. Do you agree or disagree?   Give evidence from The Call of the Wild.


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Copyright 1999

Created by Brian Thornton, Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA. POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved

Click here for a complete list of the novels