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Key Facts

Key Facts

full title  ·  The Call of the Wild

author  · Jack London

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Dog story; adventure story

language  · English

time and place written  ·  1903, California

date of first publication  · Serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, June 20–July 18, 1903

publisher  ·  The Saturday Evening Post

narrator  · Anonymous, speaking from a point in time after the events in the novel have taken place

point of view  · Buck’s point of view, for the most part; the novel also shifts briefly into John Thornton’s point of view during his wager involving Buck’s ability to pull a heavy sled

tone  · Sweeping, romantic, heroic

tense  · Past

setting (time)  · The late 1890s

setting (place)  · California, briefly; then Alaska and the Klondike region of Canada

protagonist  · Buck

major conflict  · Buck’s struggle against his masters and his development from a tame dog into a wild beast

rising action  · Buck’s battle with Spitz; Buck’s struggle with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes; Buck’s fulfillment of Thornton’s wager

climax  · John Thornton’s saving of Buck's life from Hal's cruelty

falling action  · Buck's time with Thornton, leading up to Thornton's death

themes  · The laws of civilization and of wilderness; the membership of the individual in the group; the power of instinct and ancestral memory; the struggle for mastery

motifs  · Fights to the death; visions

symbols  · Mercedes’ possessions symbolize the different meanings of objects in the civilized and uncivilized worlds; Buck’s traces symbolize, variously, his entrance into the wild, his superiority over the other animals, and, finally, his breaking free from the group. The club that breaks Buck in as a pack dog symbolizes the law of the uncivilized world; Curly’s death also symbolizes the break with civilization. Buck’s killing of the Yeehat Indians symbolizes his final abandonment of life as a tame animal.

foreshadowing  ·  The urges that Buck feels pulling him into the wild foreshadow his eventual transformation into a wild creature; the starving dogs who attack the team’s camp in Chapter III foreshadow the hunger that will afflict them during their ill-fated journey with Hal, Charles, and Mercedes.

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incorrect fact

by anon_2223154280, February 26, 2015

Jack London was an oyster pirate (poacher of oysters) not a pirate


7 out of 13 people found this helpful


by lamattina, March 04, 2015

Curly and Mercedes were not the only females in the book, as it says in the chapter summary, but Dolly the dog is also a minor female character. She dies of rabies.


26 out of 42 people found this helpful


by lolfaceiscool, August 13, 2015

i really liked the book


4 out of 12 people found this helpful

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