TOEFL IBT Reading Practice Test 05

Passage 3 | Literature

Influences on The Call of the Wild

Because Jack London was a rather prolific writer, producing a large body of work throughout his career, an analysis of his writing style is perhaps most effective ’ when focused on a single representative work because a comprehensive survey of his writing would only provide a superficial overview of London’s tendencies as a writer without examining the nature of his writing. Two components that are central to London’s writing are his biographical experiences and his philosophical notions, both of which feature prominently in The Call of the Wild, the novel for which he is best known.

[A] London held a variety of unusual jobs that provided him with ideas for his later writings, but one of his most influential experiences—that supplied him with a sizable reserve of source material—was his expedition 20 into the Klondike as a gold prospector. [B] When the Klondike Gold Rush began in 1897, thousands of people traveled to Yukon Territory, a northern Canadian province near Alaska. [C] Through the winter of that year, London searched for gold with little success. [D] However, journaling throughout his stay in the Klondike, London recorded his experiences and the stories he heard from other prospectors there. These writings became the basis for several later works, and this subject matter brought him his first literary acclaim by capturing the attention of the American public.

After leaving the Klondike in 1898, London turned to his writing as a source of income. Eventually, one of his short stories about the North was accepted for publication, and this first sale initiated his career as a writer. In 1904, London published The Call of the Wild, a novel that was initially received positively and that has grown in popularity to become a part of the American literary canon.

The Call of the Wild draws upon London’s experiences in northern Canada, but it also incorporates many of his personal beliefs about nature and humanity—themes guided by the philosophers that deeply influenced him. One of the theories that London applied to his writing was the idea of environmental determinism, which suggests that humans are products of their environments. Their behavior is primarily determined by their surroundings, and the expectations of society only have a secondary influence. This belief is at the root of London’s writing, especially his works about the harsh climate of the Klondike. London’s interest in environmental determinism led to the frequent portrayal of situations in which characters must behave in ways that conflict with what society deems moral and correct.

In The Call of the Wild, the Klondike—a location with which London was personally familiar—presents an ideal setting for an exploration of London’s philosophical ideas. Through his central character. Buck, a dog taken from his comfortable life in California and sent to work in the Klondike, London suggests that the environment—here, the climate of the Yukon —is the main force shaping our behavior. In fact, its influence is powerful enough to contradict even the most fundamental social laws about morality. Buck identifies “the reign of primitive law,” which supersedes the rules he had become accustomed to in his former life. “The facts j of life took on a fiercer aspect and…he faced it with all the latent cunning of his nature aroused.” Buck realizes that the “civilized” ethics of his former life no longer apply, and he adopts a new code of behavior, which, though cruel compared to the morals taught by society, enables him to adjust to life in the Klondike. London makes it clear that the inability to perceive and accept the laws of the wild results in death. In the novel, after s continually failing to recognize the behavioral rules determined by their environment. Buck’s three gold-seeking masters become its victim, dying as they try to cross a frozen body of water.

It is certainly evident in The Call of the Wild that London’s writing is heavily influenced by his experiences and philosophical ideas. With his Klondike expedition inspiring the novel’s setting, London creates a stage for conveying his thoughts about human behavior and society.

28. The word comprehensive in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) careful
(B) broad
(C) scholarly
(D) brief

29. According to paragraph 2, why did London go to the Klondike?

(A) To search for gold
(B) To pursue a career as a writer
(C) To find source material for his writing
(D) To study the effects of the harsh climate on people
Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow

30. The word initiated in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) stalled
(B) overlooked
(C) changed
(D) began

31. What can be inferred from paragraph 3 about London’s writing?

(A) It earned him money.
(B) it was misunderstood by the public.
(C) It was not considered very important
(D) It was difficult to understand.
Paragraph 3 is marked with an arrow i^i.

32. Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 4 about London’s philosophical beliefs?

(A) They were revolutionary during his lifetime.
(B) They were not widely known in American culture.
(C) They were offensive to many people.
(D) They were influenced by several different philosophers.

33. In paragraph 4, why does the author mention environmental determinism?

(A) To give an example of one way London’s philosophical interests influenced his writing
(B) To support the claim that London’s primary interest as a writer was in making money
(C) To introduce the idea that London’s writing receives more credit than it deserves
(D) To explain why London often chose to use animals as main characters instead of humans

34. According to the passage, what kind of writing did London originally become famous for?

(A) Journal writing about gold prospecting
(B) Stories set in northern Canada
(C) Histories on the Klondike Gold Rush
(D) Essays about environmental determinism

35. According to paragraph 5, London used the main character, Buck, to show that

(A) the primary influence on our behavior is our environment
(B) society’s moral rules are stronger than people want to admit
(C) people do not appreciate what they have until it is absent
(D) few people are strong enough to survive in a world without social rules
Paragraph 5 is marked with an arrow [■*].

36. The word its in the passage refers to

(A) environment
(B) climate
(C) Yukon
(D) behavior

37. The word primitive in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) high
(B) respectful
(C) instinctive
(D) angry

38. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

(A) In order to adjust to his new life. Buck’s behavior must become harsher than it was before.
(B) Buck discovers that he does not need society to tell him what is right and wrong.
(C) Even though the Klondike is different. Buck maintains his sense of self.
(D) After spending time in the Klondike, Buck finds he can no longer remember his old morals.

39. Look at the four squares m that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.

These people, like London, envisioned wealthy futures for themselves and were willing to endure the many hardships that would, they believed, bring them closer to their fortunes.

Where would the sentence best fit?
Click on a square U to add the sentence to the passage.

40. Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.

Jack London’s work was influenced by ideas and experiences that the author was exposed to.


Answer Choices

(A) The Call of the Wild is based on London’s time in the Klondike, where he worked as a gold prospector.
(C) In 1898, London published his first short story and soon after began to rely on his writing as a means of economic support.
(E) London’s novels quickly became successful, and audiences eagerly anticipated the author’s future work.
(B) The Call of the Wild was written from the perspective of an animal rather than from the point of view of a person.
(D) London’s writing was influenced by the ideas of environmental determinism, a philosophy to which he subscribed.
(F) Through the central character in The Call of the Wild, London shows that the environment is the main influence on our behavior.

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Reading Passage 1 Reading Passage 2 Answer Keys & Explanation