Teaching Students About the Setting of ‘The Call of the Wild’

The Call of the Wild, a classic novel by Jack London, is a must-read for students studying American literature. The story revolves around the adventures of Buck, a domesticated dog who is forced to adapt to the harsh environment of the Alaskan wilderness during the Klondike Gold Rush. To help students better appreciate and understand this timeless tale, educators should emphasize the importance of the novel’s setting and its impact on the characters and events.

Introducing the Klondike Gold Rush

Begin by providing students with background information about the Klondike Gold Rush that occurred in the late 1890s. This historical context will help them comprehend the motivations and struggles of those who sought fortune in a far-flung region like Alaska. They will also gain insight into how people and animals alike had to learn how to survive in an unforgiving environment.

Exploring Geography and Climate

To understand the setting  of ‘The Call of the Wild’, students must have a grasp of Alaska’s geography and climatic conditions during this time. Discuss with them the harsh snowy landscapes, steep mountainous terrains and extreme weather conditions such as blizzards, freezing temperatures and limited daylight hours. This will help students visualize Buck’s struggles as he adapts to his new surroundings.

The transformative impact on characters

Highlight how London used the Alaskan wilderness as both a physical and metaphorical backdrop against which characters were tested and transformed. Explain how Buck evolves from being a pampered pet into an adept survivor in his new environment. Students can analyze Buck’s transformation as well as other characters in terms of their choices, newfound abilities, or personality changes.

Wild versus civilization

When teaching about The Call of the Wild’s setting, draw attention to the contrast between civilization represented by humans in California and nature symbolized by the Alaskan wilderness. Discuss with students Jack London’s broader messages about perseverance, adaptability, and the human-animal bond. Encourage them to ponder over the symbolism of the wild as an untamed force.

In-class activities and assignments

Support students’ understanding of the novel’s setting with in-class activities and assignments. For instance, have students create a visual representation of the Alaskan landscape using maps or drawings. Additionally, you can facilitate a debate or discussion on the themes of survival and adaptation in different environments.

In conclusion, teaching about the setting  of ‘The Call of the Wild’ is essential in helping students better understand Jack London’s masterpiece of American literature. Focusing on historical context, geography, character development and thematic contrasts will make this classic tale more meaningful for young readers while imparting valuable life lessons.

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