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White Fang

Jack London

Part Four, Chapters 4-6

Part Four, Chapters 1-3

Part Five, Chapters 1-2

Summary

Cherokee, the bulldog, and White Fang eye each other nervously in the circle. Neither is used to fighting this other type of dog and look at each other with confusion. Egged on by its owner, the bulldog makes a run for White Fang; he responds fiercely, yet is puzzled by the dog. The bulldog has a lot of thick flesh, and White Fang's teeth sink in, but the bulldog does not seem to mind. The bulldog is confused by White Fang's quickness. Finally, the bulldog sinks its teeth into White Fang's throat and will not let go. White Fang can do nothing to shake the dog off. Finally, just as White Fang is beginning to die, a man comes into the midst of the fighting and separates the dogs. Another man is with him and they pay Beauty Smith one hundred and fifty dollars for White Fang, even when he says he won't sell him.

The men are Weedon Scott, a mining expert and Matt, a dog musher. They want to try to tame White Fang. They let him off the leash, and Scott feeds him meat. White Fang kills another dog who tries to get the meat, and rips open Matt's leg. Scott pulls his revolver, deciding that shooting White Fang is the humane way to end his life. But Matt defends White Fang, and they decide to try again. Scott goes to White Fang and tries to pet him but White Fang rips his hand open. Matt goes to get a rifle, and this time Scott defends White Fang. But more than that, White Fang recognizes the rifle for what it is and hides behind the cabin. They decide he is intelligent and decide to try again.

A day later, Scott approaches White Fang again, and the dog shrinks back, knowing that he is going to be punished. But Scott sits down and speaks quietly to White Fang. Then he gets some meat and tosses it to White Fang. In Scott's voice is kindness, which White Fang has never heard before. Scott pets White Fang, and White Fang, very uncomfortably, tolerates it. Bit by bit, White Fang grows to like Scott, and slowly grows to love him. White Fang also becomes a great help to the house, both by working on the sled and by guarding it by night.

One day Scott leaves for Circle City and White Fang, left with Matt, will not eat and loses heart. When Scott returns, White Fang wags his tail and looks at him with love, nudging him with his muzzle and snuggling with his master.

One night while Scott and Matt are playing a game of cribbage, they hear a snarl and a cry outside. They hurry to the steps and see that White Fang has attacked a man. Then with another look, they see that it is Beauty Smith who came with a club and a chain to try to steal White Fang.

Commentary

This is the first time that White Fang has experienced love. This transformation he undergoes is amazing--his nature is already set, but Weedon Scott finds a way to return to the roots of his nature. Symbolically, the fight with the bulldog is one of the turning points for White Fang. For the first time in his life, he found a match that was going to kill him, not out of hatred, but just because that was in the nature of the bulldog. White Fang was entirely unprepared for the fight with Cherokee-- the bulldog was too short and too thick for White Fang to understand. He uses his normal attacks against Cherokee, but nothing seems to work. Scott saves him from this dog, thus saving his life.

One of the contrasts between White Fang's life in the village and White Fang's life with Scott is the running of the sled. In the village, all of the dogs ran in a fan formation. They tried to attack whoever was in the lead and thus were more motivated to run by anger and hatred rather than love and respect for their owners and for other dogs. When he runs on Matt's line, he is the leader once again, but this time it is a true leadership rather than the angry speed of the fan formation. These dogs, like Bill and Henry's dogs, are put in a straight line. The leader must be wise because he determines the course for all the other dogs, and wherever he goes they must follow. Thus, when White Fang takes the position of the leader in this society, he is developing into a dog that works by respect rather than aggression.

It is important to remember that even with love, White Fang is not a "soft" dog. He uses all of his physical prowess to guard the house, going so far as to attack Beauty when he tries to steal him. The difference is that this anger does not take over White Fang's soul--it is only a way to help his master.

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White Fang

by hannahc143, August 22, 2012

i agree....

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6 out of 15 people found this helpful

mkay

by mrtaj37, April 15, 2013

mkay jack london mkay

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2 out of 3 people found this helpful

White fang

by ckroon, October 22, 2013

tis one big dog

See all 5 readers' notes   →

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