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Study Guide for The Call of the Wild

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 4/5/2012

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.

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    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

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    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?
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    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

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    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?