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The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild


by Jack London

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Quest

The Normal Universe

Buck's happy in his home in California.

Such a lovely, normal universe, California. Nothing has happened…yet.

The Horn Blows

In this case, a mandatory horn, as Buck's forcefully removed from his home.

The horn is like the Call of the Wild. Sort of. Disguised as a guy in a red sweater.


Buck doesn’t immediately take to his new life, or the role that the wilderness demands of him.

Hmm, Buck thinks, I’m not sure this is worth giving up feather beds and filet mignon.


Buck learns from watching the other dogs.

These dogs aren’t exactly sitting Buck down with a pencil and notebook, but it’s sort of an indirect advice situation.

Entering the New World

Buck starts to take on the role the wilderness demands of him.

Buck’s new world is internal as well as external. He enters this new subconscious world in his dreams.

Feeling Out the New World

Buck steps up and takes over as leader of the team.

Hey, Buck thinks, I’m getting to like this. Especially now that I’m the boss.

Exploring the Darkness

Buck starts having dreams about his ancestors; he adapts to his new surroundings and becomes hardened.

It’s hard work being leader of a sled, trekking through frozen terrain without food or rest.

Disaster Strikes

The team (sans Buck) falls through the ice.

Disaster and a half. Buck barely escapes.

Inner Strength Prevails

Buck's revitalized by the love of Thornton.

Inner strength? Not so much. But some external hand-licking sure seems to do the job.

Mastering the Discipline

Buck establishes his dominance in all things physical, including hunting and pulling large loads of weight.

Buck is officially the top dog, at least among formerly domesticated dogs that were stolen from their homes of comfort in California.

Fighting the Final Battle

Buck attacks the Yeehat tribe that killed Thornton.

This one really does fit—the final battle with the Yeehat tribe is also Buck’s final battle with his own conflicted inner self. Should he stay among men, or leave for the wild?

The Pearl of Wisdom Calms

Buck joins the wild, giving in to his primal instincts.

We’re not sure Buck gains any real pearl (what with being a dog and all).

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