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Study Guide for The Call of the Wild

By Marlene Gundlach

Jack London's novel Call of the Wild is a novel where he shares his experiences during the gold rush. In his novel, the gold rush forever changes the life of a dog named Buck. This article provides vocabulary terms and sample questions to help with your comprehension of this classic book.

Chapters 1-3 Vocabulary Words & Definitions

This section of the study guide will give you vocabulary words and definitions that appear in chapters 1-3. By having these definitions and their parts of speech, you can gain a better understanding of what you are reading. Before you read each chapter, preview the words listed here.

Chapter 1

Docile: (adjective) easily let, taught, managed

Insular: (adjective) narrow minded, limited, isolated

Progeny: (noun) one's offspring; children

Futile: (adjective) without useful result

Hydrophobia: (noun) rabies

Metamorphosis: (noun) passing on from one form to another

Conciliate: (verb) to win over or gain friendship; to overcome hostility

Imperious: (adjective) commanding, domineering

Introspect: (verb) to examine reflectively

Chapter 2

Malignant: (adjective) causing death or harm

Retrogression: (noun) reversal in development from a higher to a lower state

Callous: (adjective) to be without emotional feelings

Cadence: (noun) rhythmic movement

Grim: (adjective) stern, gloomy

Ignominious: (adjective) dishonorable

Consternation: (noun) a sudden confusion or amazement

Morose: (adjective) having a sullen disposition

Arduous: (adjective) difficult, hard

Chapter 3

Din: (noun) a loud, confused noise

Daunt: (verb) intimidate, discourage

Prostrate: (adjective) defenseless, lying prone

Sinew: (noun) strength, power

Inexorable: (adjective) unyielding

Discussion Questions

Use these questions to further enhance your understanding, prepare for a test or choose an essay topic.

  • Why were dogs so important in the Klondike during the gold rush?
  • Describe what Buck was like when he lived with Judge Miller on the Santa Clara estate.
  • Why does Francois think that Buck is worth every penny spend on him?
  • Within a short period of time in the Klondike, Buck learns about "the law of club and fang". What incidents teach him this lesson? What does he learn from each lesson?
  • As early as chapter 2, we see Buck change into a primordial being. What do you specifically see in Buck that demonstrates this transformation?
  • In chapter 2, Buck steals food from Francois and Perrault. What does this reveal to the reader? Why is this change in Buck as important one?

Terms and Definitions

These terms and definitions will aid in your comprehension of chapters 4-7.

Chapter 4

Lububrious: (adjective) sad, mournful, dejected

Dubious: (adjective) causing doubt, unsettled in judgement

Inarticulate: (adjective) unable to speak clearly

Chapter 5

Salient: (adjective) standing out, projecting beyond a line, conspicuous

Chaffering: (verb) bargaining, hassling

Remonstrance: (noun) statement of reasons against an act or idea; protest

Copious: (adjective) large in quantity; abundant

Monosyllabic: (noun) word of one syllable

Tormentor: (noun) one who causes terrible pain or annoys another

Chivalry: (noun) brave and courteous qualities of an ideal knight

Chapter 6

Convalesce: (verb) to grow strong after a long illness

Provocation: (verb) to cause to be angry

Conjure: (verb) to bring to mind

Babel: (noun) a confusing sound of many people talking at once

Ferocious:(adjective) extremely savage; fierce

Chapter 7

Tangible: (adjective) capable of being felt by touch

Infinitesimal: (adjective) immeasurable small

Ptarmigan: (noun) type of species of grouse that has feathered feet, is found in cold regions

Usurp: (verb) to take over by force without authority

Advent: (noun) coming or arrival

Gaunt: (noun) thin and bony

Pertinent: (adjective) relating significantly to the matter being discussed

Sample Essay Questions

Use these essay questions to further enhance your understanding of these chapters of Call of the Wild.

  • Cite two examples from chapter 4 illustrating Buck's careful and cunning strategy to take the team's leadership away from Spitz.
  • When Buck's first tactic in his battle with Spitz falls through, what does he do next? What does this reveal about Buck?
  • Buck dreams about a man who is "short of leg and longer in arm", who do you think the man is? What is the connection of this dream to the book's plot?
  • Why do Francois, Perrault, and the half breed have to sell Buck?
  • Why does Buck refuse to pull the sled at John Thorton's camp at the mouth of the White River?
  • Compare Buck's relationship with Judge Miller to his one with John Thorton.
  • Thorton save Buck's life by rescuing him from the three foolish travelers. Explain two times when Buck saves Thorton's life.
  • What is Buck's life like after Thorton's death? What evidence do you have of this?
  • What do the Yeehats think Buck is?