Read The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild - Study Guide

You don't have to love dogs to appreciate that Jack London's The Call of the Wild (1903) is one of the best American novels. Why? We hope our study guide is particularly helpful for teachers and students to better understand the nuances of the story and its significance in American Literature.

Read the novel: The Call of the Wild, Character Analysis & Summary, Genre & Themes, Symbolism, Historical Context, Quotes, Discussion Questions, Paired Readings, Useful Links, and Notes/Teacher Comments

Jack London, The Call of the Wild: For the Love of Man
For the Love of a Man

Character Analysis & Summary


Plot Summary

Jack London, The Call of the Wild, Buck becomes the leader of the pack
Buck becomes leader after fight to the death

Genre & Themes


Primary Themes

Secondary Themes

Comparative Themes

Jack London, The Call of the Wild, The Law of Club and Fang
Into the Primitive

Chapter Headings

London's chapter titles reveal the story:


London employs a number of symbols in the story that impart a number of lessons (for both man and beast):

The Call of the Wild Study Guide: Klondike Gold Rush
Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush, 1898

Historical Context

Jack London's story is set during the Klondike Gold Rush, in which an estimated 100,000 prospectors came to the Yukon, Canada after gold was discovered by local miners and reported to Seattle, triggering a stampede of wanna-be prospectors between 1896 - 1899. Most went home poor, but had plenty of stories to tell. The trip required passage from Southeast Alaska over Chilkoot Pass to the Yukon River, descending to the Klondike. Between the hazards of elevation and extreme weather conditions, many did not surive or abandoned their quest. By 1889, folks lost interest and the goldfield were abandoned for the most part, though gold mining activity continued until 1903, the same year London published his most famous book.

It's worth mentioning that the Yeehat Indian tribe is fictionalized. No such North American tribe exists. London made it up, along with their legend of the "Ghost Dog."

The Call of the Wild Study Guide: Jack London
Jack London


Explain what the following quotes mean and how they relate to the story:

The Call of the Wild movie (1935) starring Clarke Gable
The Call of the Wild 1935 movie set

Discussion Questions

A Piece of Steak
A Piece of Steak

Paired Reading Suggestions

Compare another story's plot, setting, symbols, writing style, and relationships with The Call of the Wild:

The Terra Nova Expedition of the South Pole, 1912
Terra Nova Expedition, Antarctica, 1912

Teacher Resources
A Teacher's Work Is Never Done

Notes/Teacher Comments

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