Jack London 1876-1916
Jack London The most successful writer in America in the early 20th Century. His vigorous stories of men and animals against the environment, and survival against hardships were drawn mainly from his own experience.
Jack London • An illegitimate child, London passed his childhood in poverty in the Oakland slums. • His years in the Klondike searching for gold left their mark in his best short stories; among them, The Call of the Wild, and White Fang. • His work embraced the concept of Darwinism (animals evolve through natural selection and only the strongest survive) in its exploration of the laws of nature. • He died at age 40 of various diseases and drug treatments. www.jacklondon.com
Klondike Gold Rush Late 19th Century and Early Twentieth Century
The Klondike Gold Rush, was a frenzy of gold rush immigration to and for gold prospecting, along the Klondike River near Dawson City, Yukon, Canada after gold was discovered there in the late 19th century. Wikipedia
Chilkoot Trail • See Video
Fix-up Strategies • There are many hard words in this novel. We will do some word study (Interactive word wall) but you need a strategy for understanding difficult words. • See handout. • Use Handout 1: The Klondike Gold Rush to practice strategy.
Before Reading • Read “The Life of Jack London” and the forward of this book with your group. Use the handout from Fix-Up strategies for information as well. • Create a timeline which shows important dates of both Jack London’s Life and the Klondike Gold Rush.
Ch. 1 Into the Primitive • Read Ch. 1 in your groups. • Questions for Journal: • Who is Manuel and what did he do? Why did he do it? • What is Buck’s life like at Judge Miller’s place? Why does Buck simply assume that he is out for a stroll with Manuel? • What breed of dog is Buck?
What does the man in the red sweater teach Buck? Why is this an important lesson. • Who are Buck’s new owners? • Which dogs have we met so far? • Why did the author include the incident with snow at the end of chapter 1? • Make a prediction about what you think might happen. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeDv3hVcc8A
Activity-Groups • In Ch. 1 Buck is stolen from his home and sold north as a sled dog to Perrault and Francois. Fold a sheet of paper in half. On the left side, make statements about the way Buck’s life was on the Judge’s ranch. Find quotes/phrases from the book to support your claims. On the right side, generalize about the way his life was once he was kidnapped by the gardener. Again, use quotes/phrases from the book to support your ideas. • Homework: Write a comparison/contrast paragraph and pass it in.
Chapter 2: The Law of Club and Fang • What does Buck learn after he is “suddenly jerked from the heart of civilization and flung into the heart of things primordial?” • Describe several specific things Buck learns by either experience or instinct. • Pretend you are Buck. Write an internal monologue revealing the thoughts and feelings Buck might be feeling as he undergoes his dramatic transformation. Point of View What do you remember about this?
Point of View • First Person: The story is told by a character in it. “I” Example: I saw the way he looked at me and my heart broke in two. • Third Person: The story is told by a narrator who is not a character in it. “He/ She” Example: Sean looked at her and her face crumpled in sadness.
New Concept: Omniscient (all knowing) • Third Person Omniscient: The narrator can see into the hearts and minds of all of the characters. • Third Person Limited Omniscient: The narrator can see into the heart and mind of the main character. Which one is Call of the Wild? How do you know?
Question • The story is 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 by Francois or Perrault? • Anthropomorphism: formal name for giving human qualities to animals. • London doesn’t have Buck speak or walk upright, but he does give Buck human thoughts and emotions. In groups, find examples of this.
Activity: Quotations • What does the passage reveal about Buck’s view of himself? • What does the passage tell us about his view of his world, especially the humans around him? Each group analyze all three passages/quotations.
Chapter 3: The Dominant Primordial Beast • Teacher read aloud • In groups: Answer questions below • Ch. 3 centers on the fight between Buck and Spitz. How does the narrator prepare the reader for this scene? Why does Buck win? Did the fight have to end in Spitz’s death? Why/Why not? • How does this fight trigger Buck’s more “primitive” nature?
Characters • Protagonist: Main character in a work of literature. The protagonist often overcomes a challenge (mentally or physically) to achieve a new understanding (learn a lesson) by the book’s end. • A protagonist’s journey is made more dramatic by challenges/obstacles presented by character’s with different beliefs. A “foil” provokes the protagonist so as to highlight more clearly certain features of the main character. • The most important foil, the Antagonist, opposes the protagonist, barring or complicating his or her success.
Who is the protagonist of this novel? • Is there more than one antagonist so far? List them.
Activity: Pack Mentality • Read Handout: Pack Mentality. • Assign dogs: Buck, Curly, Dave, Spitz, Sol-leks, Billee and Joe • Find passages that reveal information about that dog’s personality. Do character trait chart. • Where does the dog fit into the pack? • What does Buck think of this dog? • What does the dog think of Buck and the humans?
The Call… • Read this significant passage from Ch. 3 (p. 34-last paragraph): “ With the aurora borealis…of existence.” • Are there other passages that describe the allure of this song to Buck? • What song is this literally? • What does the song symbolize? • How does the full passage suggest a major theme of the novel for both humans and dogs?
Chapter 4: Who Has Won to Mastership • Read Ch. 4. • How do Francois and Perrault respond when they discover that Buck has killed Spitz? Why had the dog team become unruly? • How are the dog’s treated by the Scotch Half Breed? How does this become important to Buck’s future? • Describe what happens with Dave. How does the author make it it so emotional?
Visualization • Read from half down p. 46 to the end of 47 • Visualize it. • Discuss: Who is this man and what might he symbolize to Buck?
Ch. 5: The Toil of Trace and Trail Read out loud. • Describe Hal, Charles and Mercedes. • What does Mercedes do to “help” the dogs that only ends up hurting them? What do her actions allow you to conclude about her Hal and Charles? • Do you think that Hal, Charles and Mercedes are realistic characters? Or do you think that London has exaggerated to make a point? Explain.
Writing Activity Pretend you are one of Buck’s owners (Francois, Scotch half-breed, 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 in First person as the character that you have chosen. Include specific details from the story in your letter.
Ch. 6: For the Love of a Man • How does John Thornton differ from Buck’s previous masters? • Why does Buck respond to Thornton with such devotion? • How does London create suspense in the scene in which Buck pulls the thousand pound load? • Why do you think the author included details like killing the moose-what does it reveal about Buck?
Humans in the Novel • Are the human characters developed in this novel? (ie. Do they grow and change?) Why/Why not?
Answer the following questions in pairs: • Judge Miller: Although we never meet Judge Miller, what do we learn about him from Buck? Does Buck respect or love him? • The “man in the red sweater”: Upon first reading, he may seem brutal and cruel. However, from another perspective could this man’s lesson to Buck –””The Law of Club and Fang”- be exactly what Buck needs to survive in the Klondike? • Perrault and Francois: What special qualities does Perrault see in Buck? Why do they allow Buck to fight Spitz to the death, even though this means their sled team will lose a member?
Con’t • Hal, Charles and Mercedes: Do you think that Hal, Charles and Mercedes are realistic characters? Or do you think that London has exaggerated to make a point? What might London be suggesting by including three humans who seek gold at the expense of their own well-being? • John Thornton: Why does Buck develop genuine love for Thornton? Why does Thornton admire Buck so much?
Chapter 7: The Sound of the Call • Despite Buck’s adoration for Thornton, why does the “strain of the primitive” remain “alive and active” in Buck? • Examples of Foreshadowing? (ie. That something bad has happened at camp.) • Were you surprised by the ending?
Plot Structure • In groups, create a plot triangle for the novel. • Include the following significant events as well as others you deem important: • Ch. 3 Buck defeats Spitz • Ch. 6: Buck wins 1,600 dollars in a bet and becomes famous all over Alaska. • Ch. 7: John Thornton discovers gold like “yellow butter”-creating an opportunity for Buck to adopt a new lifestyle. • Ch. 7: Buck leaves J.T., unknowingly missing a raid that wipes out the entire camp.
Themes • Tension between Nature and Civilization • In groups, find examples of this in the novel. Share. • Example from Ch. 6. “Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest[…] but […] the love for John Thornton drew him back to the fire again.” Does this theme apply today?
ABC Book • See Sample!
Character Sketch Fill in a character Trait Chart for Buck. Using the organizer provided, write a character sketch.