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Lesson Plan-Unit Study:
by Jack London
The Call of the Wild by Jack London can inspire learning opportunities in a variety of ways. The book can also lead to interesting discussions.
The Call of the Wild was originally published as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post from June 20 to July 18, 1903. Other authors who have written fiction in serial form include Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stephen King.
The novel is an adventure story whose central character is Buck. Buck is a large, strong dog who ends up working in the Klondike gold rush. Set in the late 1890s, the story is primarily narrated from Buck's point of view.
In the beginning of the novel, Buck is a domesticated dog living comfortably on a California farm. After he is kidnapped and brought to the Klondike he reverts to the fierceness of his ancestors.
Jack London was influenced by the ideas of the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche believed that there were only masters and slaves in the world. Nietzsche's superman theory states that the superman, also called Der Ubermensche, "...creates his own good and evil, based on that which helps him to succeed or fail. In this way good is something which helps one to realize his potential and evil is whatever hampers or stands in the way of this effort."
There are a number of Movie and TV productions based on the Call of the Wild. The earliest of these productions was released in 1908 by D.W. Griffith.
The Call of the Wild is an exciting and well written classic. It provides an interesting starting place for many learning opportunities.
Suggestions for further study:
The Classic Texts Vocabulary web site has a list of 100 vocabulary words from The Call of the Wild by Jack London, including hydrophobia, metamorphose, and tenderfoot.
For more vocabulary words check this site.
-The Klondike gold rush
-Biography of Jack London
-The History of Gold
-The difference between types of narration (1st person, 3rd person, multiple narrators, etc.)
-Point of view (the author, one of the characters, subjective, omniscient, etc.)
-Read The Sea-Wolf by Jack London
-Watch one of the movies based on the book and compare it to the novel.
-Where is the Klondike region?
-What routes did people take to get there?
-Where are other gold mines today?
-Where were other gold rushes located in the US?
-Learn about the Geology of Gold
-How is gold formed?
-What does survival of the fittest mean?
-How does the Call of the Wild reflect "survival of the fittest"?
-The science, chemistry and structure of gold
-Discuss Frederick Nietzsche's theory of the Superman
-How does The Call of the Wild reflect Nietzsche's Superman theory?
-What are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing a work of fiction as a magazine serial?
-How does this novel show that a man's best friend is his dog?
-What would the book have been like if it was narrated a different way?
-Why is gold considered so valuable?
-Are there reasons, in addition to the hope of riches, that would cause people to rush to the gold fields?