The world of book summaries

Tu mundo, tu resumen…

Paper Moon Activities

Before You Read

The Call of the Wild Chapters 1–3

FOCUS ACTIVITY

Book and chapter titles provide clues to content, hinting at actions to come. What does the title

The Call of the Wild suggest that the book will be about? What do the titles of the first three
chapters suggest?

Think–Pair–Share

Pair up with a classmate and, based on the titles, predict what will happen to Buck the dog.
Make note of your predictions so that you can check them later.

Setting a Purpose

Read to discover how Buck is used to living and what changes he must endure.

BACKGROUND

Did You Know?

In The Call of the Wild, Jack London writes about his main character, the dog Buck, as if the dog
were human. The formal name for giving human qualities to animals is anthropomorphism. This
word comes from the Greek words for “human” and “form.” To anthropomorphize something is to
give it human form, or human characteristics. London doesn’t have Buck speak or walk upright,
but he does give the dog human thoughts and emotions. As humans, we relate to those thoughts
and emotions and accept them. As readers, we identify closely with Buck because we feel the
same anger, the same surprise, and the same fear.

The End of the Nineteenth Century

In the novel, the nineteenth century is nearly over. As thousands of people head for the goldfields
in Canada and Alaska, what are other Americans doing and thinking about? The final decades of
the nineteenth century are considered a time of growth and change. The population of the United
States increased by more than fifty percent from 1880 to 1900. Much of this increase was due to
immigration. People from Europe came to the United States in record numbers.
During this period, Americans began to use machines to do their work. Industrialization
spread quickly. Ways of doing things changed. Small factories became larger and produced more
goods, creating more jobs for people. At home, machines also helped with everyday tasks.

Active Reading

The Call of the Wild Chapters 1–3

Buck has many new experiences in the opening chapters of the novel. In each case, he is able to
adapt. Use the diagram on this page to record each new situation Buck experiences and how it
changes him.

Situation →→→→→→→→→→→→→How Buck Changes or Adapts
Manuel betrays Buck.→→→→→→→Buck begins to be mistrustful of men.

Responding

The Call of the Wild Chapters 1–3

Personal Response

How did you feel when Manuel sold Buck to the man in the red sweater? Why?

Analyzing Literature

Recall and Interpret

1. What is Buck’s life like at Judge Miller’s place? Why does Buck assume he is simply out for a stroll with Manuel?

2. What does the man in the red sweater teach Buck? Why was this an important lesson for Buck to learn?

3. What do François and Perrault expect of their dogs? Why do they admire Buck?

Evaluate and Connect

4. The story is mainly told from Buck’s point of view. How does this perspective influence
how you feel about Buck? How might the story change if it were told from the
dog trainer’s point of view?

5. Does the story—a gold rush and a kidnapped dog—seem true to life? Explain.

Literature and Writing

Character Development

In many stories and novels, the goal of the main character is to improve himself or herself
in some way. In The Call of the Wild, the narrator points out that once Buck learns
to steal food, his moral decay has begun. He then says that this is vital, or absolutely
necessary, for Buck’s survival. In one or two paragraphs, explain what this means. Do
you agree with the narrator’s statement? Why or why not?

Extending Your Response

Literature Groups

In your group, share the predictions you made in the Focus Activity on page 12 and see
which ones are correct. Then, together skim the titles of Chapters 4 and 5 and predict
what will happen next in the novel.

Geology Connection

The days when prospectors can find gold sparkling in the bottom of a creek bed are
probably gone. Find out why gold used to be found in river beds. In addition, find out
where most of the world’s gold mines are. What geographic or geologic characteristics do
these areas have in common? Create a map that shows the world’s major gold-producing
regions. Display your map as you report on the common characteristics of these regions

Before You Read

The Call of the Wild Chapters 4 and 5

FOCUS ACTIVITY

Have you ever had to get control of or lead a group? How did you do it?

Quickwrite

Jot down brief notes about the situation and what you did to gain control. How did you
communicate to the group that you intended to be the leader? Were others trying to lead the group as well?

Setting a Purpose

Read about Buck’s struggle for mastery and how he resolves the conflict.

BACKGROUND

Did You Know?

Northern regions that are far inland have colder winters than the areas that are closer to the ocean.
The interior plains of northwestern Canada are characterized by short summers and long, cold
winters. In The Call of the Wild, the dogs and drivers travel “comfortably” on days that are –50°F.
That is far colder than most of us could stand. At that temperature, exposed flesh freezes in
a manner of minutes. The drivers would have been wrapped and bundled from head to toe.

Yukon Territory

Prior to 1898, the area where the Yukon and Klondike rivers flow was part of Canada’s vast
sparsely populated Northwest Territories. With the discovery of gold in the region, the population
grew quickly. In 1898 the Canadian Parliament separated the most northwest portion of the
region into its own territory. No one yet realized that the population growth of this new Yukon
Territory would be only temporary. By 1899 the Klondike gold rush was almost over. Gold had
been discovered in Alaska and many Yukon prospectors packed up and headed to the west.
The area we know as Alaska had been purchased from Russia in 1867. The U.S. official who
pushed for the purchase was William Seward. Many Americans opposed Seward’s idea. What
good could come from owning all that land? It wasn’t even connected to the other states. They
labeled Alaska “Seward’s Folly,” or foolish act. How pleased those same Americans were when
gold was discovered in Alaska not many years later.

Responding

The Call of the Wild Chapters 4 and 5

Personal Response

If you were able, what would you say to the people who owned Buck?…………………………..
  1. François and Perrault…………………………………….
  2. the man known as the Scotch half-breed…………………………….
  3. Hal, Charles, and Mercedes………………………..

Analyzing Literature

Recall and Interpret

1. How do François and Perrault respond when they discover that Buck has killed
Spitz? Why had the dog team become unruly?
2. How are the dogs treated by the Scotch half-breed? How does this become
important to Buck’s future?
3. What does Mercedes do to “help” the dogs that only ends up harming them?
What do her actions allow you to conclude about her, Hal, and Charles?

Evaluate and Connect

4. How does reading about these three different kinds of owners—one after the
other—affect your response to each owner?
5. Do you think that Hal, Charles, and Mercedes are realistic characters? Or do you
think that London has exaggerated to make a point? Explain.

Literature and Writing

Letter Home

Suppose you are one of Buck’s owners—François; the man known as the Scotch halfbreed;
or Hal, Charles, or Mercedes. Write a letter to someone back home about your
experience in the Yukon. Tell about the travel conditions, your travel companions,
and the dog team. Remember to write from the point of view of the character you’ve
chosen. Borrow details from the story to add specifics to your letter.

Extending Your Response

Literature Groups

Review the notes you wrote in the Focus Activity on page 16. Summarize the situation
for the members of your group. Talk about the techniques you used to lead the
group. Did you exercise authority? Were you conclusive? Were you willing to take
responsibility for the group’s decisions? In your discussion, include any techniques
you used that did not work. Have a group member keep a list of effective and ineffective
techniques mentioned in the discussion.

Math Connection

In this section, the dogs make the trip from Skagway to Dawson in the Yukon
Territory. Locate those towns in an atlas. Use the scale of miles to determine the
distance between the towns. Knowing that the trip took thirty days, make rough
calculations about the speed at which the dogsled was traveling.

(To be continued)

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