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White Fang

Jack London

Part Five, Chapters 3-5

Part Five, Chapters 1-2

Questions for Study

Summary

White Fang slowly becomes accustomed to life in his master's house. Dick, the deer-hound, learns not to attack him, but Collie still continues with her snarls. White Fang starts to learn about his master's house--he must be kind to the children, he must respect the other members of the house. Outside, White Fang at first has problems with the chickens--attacking chickens and then the groom when he tries to save them. Scott says that he cannot cure White Fang of his nature until he catches him killing the chickens.

Several nights later, White Fang kills fifty chickens that the groom lays out across the porch. Scott comes outside and discovers this, and cuffs him while holding his nose to the chickens. Judge Scott, Scott's father, tells Scott that once a chicken-killer kills a chicken, they will never get the taste from their mouth and will always kill chickens. Scott tells him that he will lock White Fang in with the chickens all afternoon and that for every chicken that he kills, Scott will give the Judge a gold coin. For every ten minutes of the time that White Fang spends in the yard without killing chickens, the Judge will have to say to him solemnly, "White Fang, you are smarter than I thought." Scott locks White Fang in with the chickens and White Fang ignores them, at four o'clock leaping outside onto the porch. The Judge tells White Fang sixteen times that he is smarter than he thought.

So White Fang becomes part of the household. But his master is just: White Fang learns that he can kill wild things, and that he doesn't need to tolerate other dogs attacking him. White Fang flourishes, but he never quite relaxes. He misses the snow, misses the Wild. Yet he learns to play with his master and slowly learns to tolerate Collie.

One day White Fang is out with his master, and he barks once. After that Scott tries to make him bark again, but he doesn't, until one day when Scott's horse falls to the earth, and Scott breaks his leg. Scott sends White Fang home to get help, and he runs up and onto the porch where he barks and pulls them along until they follow him and help Scott.

Finally, even he and Collie become friends and run together as mates.

About this time, a convict escapes from the San Quentin prison. The Judge has sentenced Jim Hall to prison, and when he escapes, he decides to seek vengeance upon Judge Scott. He sneaks up and onto the porch and would have killed the family, if White Fang had not been keeping watch. Jim Hall shoots White Fang, but White Fang kills Jim Hall. The family calls for a surgeon and he tries to save their dog.

White Fang is slow to recover, dreaming of the North and his past life. One nightmare in particular bothers him--a giant streetcar attacks him in the forest or in his pen. But he recovers, and the whole family calls him the Blessed Wolf. Collie has puppies and White Fang, the Blessed Wolf, lies in the sunshine and is happy.

Commentary

White Fang learns to go against his own nature in this section. The wild is still in him up to this point--his love of Scott is the only thing that allows him to learn to not do what his nature asks of him. The chicken incident reveals that love, but it is not until he saves Scott that he is accepted by the family and learns to live with, rather than just tolerate, the other people and dogs. This acceptance of the other world, just like his eventual acceptance of the sunshine instead of the snow, is what allows White Fang to enjoy his life.

London uses an outside force to provide climax to the book. While this differs from many books in that it seems sudden and not much related to the rest of the plot, it can be justified in two ways. First, there were outside folk in the first section of the book--that was a small short story just like this is, and the two give aesthetic balance to each other. More importantly, the character of Jim Hall provides insight into how White Fang could have turned out if he was a man. Jim Hall cannot stand being beaten; with each blow he fights harder. This is similar to White Fang's initial world. Jim Hall was born into a world that made him worse and worse, into a monster just like White Fang, "the fighting wolf," once was. London is showing how, in both cases, the environment can create monsters. Jim Hall was also sentenced wrongly by Judge Scott, which shows how even the system of human justice did not work for him. When White Fang defends his master's house and kills Jim Hall, it could be seen as a symbolic urge to kill off the wild side of himself. White Fang almost dies in the process, and his recovery is like a rebirth, this time a rebirth from the evils of society into a place where he can be happy, can feel love. But London's unspoken point stands--perhaps if Judge Scott had done for Jim Hall what his son was willing to do for White Fang, another man would be alive at the end of the book.

The end of White Fang seems like a golden time for White Fang--the puppies play about his ears, and he sleeps, dappled with sunshine. White Fang finally returns to his golden childhood. He has never known true rest before this point. At last, White Fang has returned home.

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White Fang

by hannahc143, August 22, 2012

i agree....

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4 out of 13 people found this helpful

mkay

by mrtaj37, April 15, 2013

mkay jack london mkay

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1 out of 2 people found this helpful

White fang

by ckroon, October 22, 2013

tis one big dog

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