“White Fang” is a novel written by Jack London and it’s about the life in the wilderness in the south and the way human’s behavior effects the formation of animal’s behavior. In this story, we keep up with a wolf named White Fang in different eras of his life. We see how he adapts to different conditions, new surroundings and how he changes his behavior in different situations. All of the events for the second part on are narrated from White Fang’s perspective.
The novel has five parts and in each one, we learn something about a different part of White Fang’s life. The first one can be read as a small story which serves as an introduction to the rest of the novel. The wilderness laws are an important subject in the novel and they are an important initiator of White Fang’s behavior. There are two human characters who fight with the problem of missing dogs. A she-wolf appears and lures all of their dogs into her pack and in the end, only one man and two dogs survive. He tries to frighten the wolves with fire and in the end, he was rescued by a group of Native Americans.
In the rest of the novel we get to know White Fang and we follow his life and growth in the wilderness with his mother and later on in an Indian village. There he was deprived of his freedom to roam free and he longed for the wilderness and freedom. With time he becomes devoted to his owner Gray Beaver until he was sold to another man, Beauty Smith, who was cruel to him, hit him and forced him to become a fighting dog. He was saved by Weedon Scott and he remains with him until the end of the novel and experiences love and true loyalty with him. The last part can also be read as a narrative in which the author introduces a new character and White Fang risks his life to save his owner.
The contrast between the influence of nature and people can be noted in Fang’s behavior. In the beginning, he was growing up in the wilderness, respected its laws and adjusted to them. he was guided by his instincts and the experiences he’s been through and later on his life turns around when he becomes forced to bow down to human’s will. He had to ignore his instincts and adjust to his new surroundings. The author explains that his behavior can be formed and that he is not cruel by nature. He became cruel when he was forced to be. Also, he was forced to ignore his true nature and act like a dog. Later it became so natural to him that he went back to that behavior pattern voluntarily.
In the end of the novel, White Fang finally found peace on an estate which he thought to be his home, where he was accepted and loved. The author tries to show us that circumstances determine behavior and form the true nature of a person or, in this case, an animal.ž
Theme: the way in which the surroundings shape a wolf’s behavior
Time: 19th century
Place: the north, the village, an estate in California
In the wilderness of the north, where the temperatures were below zero, on a frozen river six strong dogs were harnessed. The sleigh they were pulling had a case attached to it on which a man who lost the battle with wilderness was sitting. The other two, Bill and Henry, made their way through the coldness in silence. Howling of the wolfs was heard in their background.
In the evening they set up a camp. The dogs were more restless than before and Bill noticed that they were lacking food while he was feeding the dogs. He took out one fish for each dog but one was left without dinner so he had to feed him additionally with other food. He told Henry about it but Henry didn’t pay much attention to it. The howling of the wolves seemed to become louder and the dogs were scared. They only had three bullets left. In the middle of the night, Bill was woken up by dog’s growling. He counted the dogs and they were all there but in the morning one was missing. He was eaten by the wolves.
After breakfast they continued their journey. Around nine the sun came up and they were still chaperoned by wolves’ howling. Since the days were much shorter than the nights around three o’clock the son went down and the wolves took advantage of the dark to come closer and upset the dogs more. Bill wished for the wolves to find some pray and leave them alone. When they set up their camp again Henry was making dinner when he heard Bill’s scream and growling of the dogs. He had one half of a salmon in his hand and he lost the other half fighting with a wolf. He said that the wolf looked like a dog and Henry said that he was probably tamed.
In the morning they woke up to an unpleasant surprise. Another dog was missing, and it was their strongest dog. The day went by as every other. They traveled chaperoned by wolves. They tied up the rest of their dogs that night so that they couldn’t bite through the belts and go away. Hungry wolf’s eyes were watching them from the dark. Henry wished for more bullets which he could shot to scare the wolves.
A she-wolf, which was used as bate for the dog, appeared. She was trying to lure another dog into his death but the fire scared her and she ran away. Henry and Bill agreed that the she-wolf’s behavior was odd because she came to close to the fire. She joined the dogs and ate like one of them so they thought she was actually a dog. It reminded him of a man who had a dog which ran away with the wolves. They couldn’t afford to lose another dog so they decided to kill the intruder the first chance they get.
The next morning another dog went missing. They were sure that another dog chewed through his belts because it was the only way for him to become free. That day they tied up the dogs separated one from another. On their way, they found pieces of the wood to which the missing dog was tied and they were sure that the wolves ate him. Later Bill went to see what was going on around them and he saw many famished wolves who only fed of off their dogs. They were sure that they were their next pray and that the wolves will attack them.
The she-wolf approached them fearlessly. She was too big to be a wolf and her fur, though it looked like wolf’s fur, had a strange red tone to it. Bill and Henry agreed it was time for them to use one of the bullets but the she-wolf ran away after seeing the gun. That night they were unable to sleep in peace because the wolves approached them more and more. Henry saw Bill getting discouraged and he knew he had to talk to him about it.
The night went well and the dogs were all there in the morning. During the trip their sleigh rolled over and they had to untie the dogs. One of their dogs took advantage of it and drifted away. When they started calling for him he ran into the wilderness where the she-wolf was waiting for him. When he got to her he became suspicious but she kept on luring him away from people. The dog wanted to go back but it was too late because the wolves were already coming after him. Bill ran determined to save his dog. Henry heard a gunfire and then two more which meant Bill was out of bullets. Screams and howls were heard and then silence. Henry knew what happened.
He kept on going with his two dogs and gathered wood for his camp fire. He couldn’t sleep because he knew how close the wolves were. He kept the fire burning because it was his only protection from the wolves. In the morning he built a wooden ferry and tied it to the sleigh so that he could transport his friends’ remains.
He wasn’t safe anymore. The wolves were closer and he was woken up by his dogs growling at the she-wolf which observed him. He wanted to hit her with a piece of wood but she ran away. Henry spent the night defending himself from the wolves and, for the first time, in the morning they didn’t leave. He used fire as a weapon and even wounded the she-wolf when she came too close to him.
The wolves attacked him and his last two dogs. Henry spread the fire and sat in the middle of the fire circle until the fire started going out. He was unable to get more woods because the wolves would attack him.
He realized that he had no other option. Henry surrendered to his faith thinking he only wants to sleep and he didn’t care whether the wolves will attack him. He thought he was sleeping for hours but he actually woke up a few moments later. The wolves were gone and he as in the middle of a light fire, surrounded by people who found him and saved him from the wolves. He heard the wolves’ howl again.
The she-wolf was the first to hear human’s voices and she drifted away from the fire. She was followed by a big, gray wolf and the rest of the pack to which the wolf ordered and attacked if they tried to run in front of him. He didn’t growl at the she-wolf because of he like her and running with her. There was another wolf running next to the she-wolf but she rejected both of them. One more wolf stood out in the pack because, for his age, he was very developed and had an amazing body and spirit strength.
The wolves ran during the days and the night looking for food and then they came across some reindeer. They attacked the biggest one and he injured the wolves but in the end, he was killed. Since he was big and heavy, he was enough meat for 40 wolves.
Not that they were no longer hungry, they split up. She-wolf Kiche, the leader of the pack, One Eye, and the young wolf went to the river with their part of the pack. When they remained alone Kiche became violent and started attacking the wolves. They allowed such behavior and got into a fight for her attention and she enjoyed it very much. One Eye won the battle so he and Kiche continued their journey. They found a camp and Kiche desperately wanted to be a part of it but she ran away into the forest.
They made circles around the camp for two days. The she-wolf didn’t want to leave and it worried her opponents. When they heard gunfires they had to retract. Kiche became more determined in finding whatever it was she was looking for. She found a cave and made it her home. One Eye took care of her and went hunting for food every day. One day he came to the cave only to find five little wolves which were jealously guarded by Kiche. He went to look for food again and he found some. When One Eye came back Kiche greeted him but still growled to remind him to keep his distance but she was definitely gentler than before.
One baby wolf was especially similar to his father because he had gray fur. The other four had a red tone to their fur just like their mother. He was also different because of his behavior – he was able to recognize his mother by smell or taste. He also knew that the light he saw meant that there was the world outside which he didn’t quite know yet and it attracted him. He howled louder than the others and his mother persistently kept him away from the entrance of their cave.
Soon famine came. One Eye had difficulties finding food. The camp from which he stole it moved away so the young wolves died from hunger and the only one who survived was the gray wolf. One Eye didn’t come to the cave one day and Kiche knew he was dead.
Even though she left her young wolf alone in the cave to look for food he didn’t leave it. He was scared of leaving it. One day he ignored his fear and went out to the unknown. As soon as he got out of the cave he fell down. His instincts kept pushing him to go further. He found a bird’s nest and ate all of the baby birds and then the bird attacked him. He got into his first fight and it didn’t go well for him. He was in danger when a hawk attacked them but he managed to hide so the hawk only attacked the other bird. He was also attacked by a weasel and his mother saved him from it.
After two days he went to search for food again but this time he was smarter. He was driven by his killer instincts and hunger but luck just wasn’t on his side. After a short famine period, his mother brought him a small bobcat. He then realized that the main law of the wilderness was eaten or be eaten.
This part begins with the first encounter of the young wolf with people. It happened when he stumbled across a village. He was surrounded by people and he was surprised when they weren’t afraid of him. He thought about running away but then he felt an instinct to stay put despite his fear. One of the people reached for him and he bit his hand. It didn’t cause fear amongst people. They were actually laughing at his white fangs. He called for his mother and she came growling at the people and just when he thought his problem was solved one of the people called his mother by her name Kiche and she bowed down to him. She was a descendant of a wolf and a dog and the dog belonged to the brother of the man which recognized her. The man decided to take care of them. The little wolf was named White Fang because of his fangs. The other dogs attacked White Fang but people stopped them from hurting him and White Fang realized that there was a hierarchy amongst the dogs.
After coming back to the village White Fang recognized one of his enemies called Lip-Lip and he attacked him. After tasting the fire he burned himself and his pride was hurt when everyone laughed at him.
Soon White Fang learned people’s customs and howto behave. Lip-lip was still making his life miserable and, since he was stronger than White Fang, he always won. White Fangwas unable to enjoy his young age and games so he became clever. He learned how to steal food and get his revenge on Lip-lip. His mother was tied up and unable to help him until Lip-lip didn’t come too close to her while he was being chased by White Fang. She punished him hard then.
When the man came to the conclusion that Kiche won’t try to run away he set her free. Now she was able to walk around the village free. White Fang was happy about it because he wanted to go back to the wilderness with her but she didn’t want to follow him. Every time she would turn around and go back because she began to be loyal to the man who took care of them. White Fang was about to say goodbye to his mother when one of the men, Grey Beaver, had to pay his dues to another man so he gave him Kiche. White Fang didn’t want to be apart from his mother so he tried to follow them which ended up with him getting beaten up. He was sad but he didn’t leave the village because he believed that his mother could come back eventually. Fang learned that he had to be loyal to people and that in return they won’t be violent to him. When he learned his lesson Grey Beaver threw him some meat every now and then and he watched that the other dogs don’t take his meal. He developed a strong relationship with Grey Beaver.
Lip-lip became the leader of all dogs and they were all against Fang. They attacked him in groups and it was next to impossible for him to defend himself. His wild nature took over him and he would attack the dogs when they were alone. He wasn’t strong enough to inflict deadly injuries but he tore the throats of many of them. He was very fast so he would run into the woods when they went after him and he would hide from them. He knew the forest better and had better instincts than the dogs so they couldn’t touch him there. The people, except for Grey Beaver, were also against him. They were angry because he stole their food and attacked their dogs but Grey Beaver defended him. White Fang felt like an intruder amongst the animals and the people.
During the fall everyone was packing and getting ready to go hunting. White Fang took advantage of it to hide in the woods and stay there. Grey Beaver called him but he didn’t want to come to him. When he was finally left alone he enjoyed his newly acquired freedom but soon he felt lonely and in danger. Fang went back to the village but it was abandoned so he started to howl sadly. He searched for people and ran next to a river for days. He found a trace in the snow and saw people. Fang thought Grey Beaver would beat him up but he fed him instead. He voluntarily came back to the people and decided to live with them.
In December Grey Beaver and his son went away for a while. The dogs were tied up in such a way that they would chase one another while pulling the sleighs. Lip-lip was at the head of the dogs and he felt privileged because of it not realizing that the other dogs were running after him. The dog’s hatred for Lip-lip grew and they thought that the people liked him more because he always received more meat than the others.
Now that Lip-lip was no longer the leader of the pack that place was open for White Fang. He, despite the mutual hatred for Lip-lip, didn’t see eye to eye with the other dogs. He learned that he had to treat the weaker condescendingly and bow down to people. The other dogs didn’t dear to steal his food or come close to him and they were always in a hurry to finish their meal so that he wouldn’t take it away. He wanted to be isolated from everyone but he still wanted to keep his reign. White Fang became a dangerous dog who thought the world was a cold and loveless place. He bowed down to Grey Beaver, respected him but didn’t love him. The reason for that was that Grey Beaver never expressed any feelings for him either.
One time when he was looking for food, a boy attacked him with an ax. White Fang was confused because he knew he didn’t do anything wrong. He knew he can’t attack the boy but he had given him no choice. He came back to Grey Beaver expecting to be punished but when the boys and his parents came to complain Grey Beaver defended White Fang. He learned that he was allowed to defend his propriety against people who weren’t his owners. When Gray Beaver’s son encountered the attacked boy a fight broke out and White Fang defended him. He was rewarded with meat for his loyalty.
They came back to the village in spring. White Fang was one of the biggest dogs in the pack. He was strong and had a lot of confidence so the other dogs had a lost of respect for him and didn’t dare to attack him.
That summer he saw his mother again. He went cheerfully to her but she rejected him and starched him. It confused him but it was a usual behavior for a she-wolf protecting her young wolves. White Fang and she hadn’t seen each other for a year and she completely forgot about him and for her, he was an intruder and a danger to her new wolves.
White Fang grew stronger and his surroundings made him act more like a dog and less like a wolf. No matter how strong he was, he still couldn’t stand being mocked. It was his weakness.
During the third year of his life famine ruled in the village. The people had few animals and it was a problem for them because they live from hunting. The dogs ate one another and their owners were forced to use them as food too. First they killed the weakest. When the others realized what was happening they ran away. White Fang also ran away and he was prepared to live on the run because he had experience in it. He skillfully hunted squirrels but his hunger was so big that he had to steal food from the traps set by people. One day he stumbled upon a weak famished wolf and he ate him. He also killed Lip-lip. When he came back to the village the famine was gone.
White Fang was at the head of the harness and he ran while the other dogs chased him. They hated him and he hated them. Fang knew that his position wasn’t a privilege because he had to be chased by the same dogs which bowed down to him. He couldn’t attack him because he would get whipped and they attacked him in groups to be stronger than him.
During the summer of 1898 and The Gold Fever, they came to Fort Yukon where Grey Beaver gained a lot of money. White Fang saw white people for the first time. He immediately realized that they acted as superiors to his owner. Fang was suspicious towards them and he was interesting to them because of his wolf-like appearance. Their dogs were much weaker than Fang so he spent his days with his pack, attacking and killing the weak dogs, which was disapproved by the white people.
In Fort Yukon, a man named Beauty Smith lived. No one knew his real name and his nickname was the complete opposite of his appearance. He was a very ugly and a cruel man. Everyone was afraid of him. White Fang felt his true nature when Smith tried to buy him but Grey Beaver rejected his offer. White Fang was his most precious dog and his best leader and, since he gained a lot of money he didn’t need it. Smith started bringing him high priced whiskey and his money started disappearing. When he was left with nothing Smith tried to trade Fang for a bottle of whiskey and Grey Beaver accepted. White Fang didn’t want to accept Smith as his master and he kept on running away to Grey Beaver. Smith beat him up a lot because of that.
Smith kept him on a chain and discovered his weakness – hatred for being mocked. He used it to turn him into a fighting dog. He knew Fang’s strength and he put him in fights which he always won, brining Smith a lot of money. No dog could measure up to Fang because he defeated both dogs and bobcats. When he had nobody to fight with they brought the strongest pit-bull into the ring.
It was his first lost fight. Just when everyone thought Fang will end up dead, two men appeared and stopped the fight because they were angry at the way people treated their animals. They were Weedon Scott and Matt. They gave Smith 150 dollars for White Fang.
They wanted to tame him so they took him off his chain and gave him meat but Fang attacked a dog who tried to take his food and attacked a man. Scott decided he needs to put him down and he prepared his gun when Matt talked him out of it. He believed Fang deserves another chance because he had a hard life. The next day Fang was sure he will be punished for attacking another dog but Scott came to him and talked to him. Soon Fang started trusting him and perceiving him as his new owner. It was the first time he loved his owner.
He became a guard dog and pulled the sleigh during the day. Soon he became the leader and the other dogs had to respect him. In this case, the dogs were lined one behind another and not one next to each other. One day Scott went to Circle City and when Fang didn’t see him coming back he was sad. Fang rejected food and the other dogs took reign over him. Matt had to keep him in the house in order to protect him from other dogs but it didn’t cheer him up. Matt told Scott about Fang’s behavior and when Scott came back Fang was over the moon. Soon he recovered and regained his will to live.
One night Scott and Matt heard howling and when they stepped outside they saw Smith being attacked by Fang because he tried to rob him.
Scott was getting ready to go back to California and Fang felt like something bad was about to happen. He spent each moment with his owner. One the day of their departure they locked Fang up in the house but he ran out through the window and hurt himself a bit. When he came to the port the ship was already leaving but Scott realized he can’t leave without him.
When they reached their destination Fang was surprised. His biggest surprise was Scott’s mother that hugged him when they arrived. He also met a shepherd on their estate but he couldn’t attack her because it was a female and it was against the law. She was upset about the new dog and she kept on attacking him. He also met another dog and in order to prevent a confrontation between them Scott kept Fang inside the house.
Him being inside the house made the other dogs more friendly towards him. He didn’t respond back to their friendship because he wasn’t used to doing that. His only wish was for the other dogs to leave him alone. Fang learned to respect Scott’s family and with time he adapted to them touching him and petting him all the time. He even loved the children and most of all he loved Scott’s father but he was still loyal to Scott.
After killing a few chickens he was punished. Scott’s father said that once an animal tastes blood it can never go back but Scott disagreed. They made a bet which ended up with Fang being locked up with the chickens. He didn’t pay any attention to them and Scott’s father lost the bet.
One day he went horseback riding with his owner who fell off of the horse and broke his leg. Scott told Fang to get help and even though Fang didn’t understand him he knew just what to do. When he came to the house he tried to show the people that his owner was in great danger and when he barked he finally managed to do so. After his heroic act the family loved him even more.
During that time the main news was that some convict named Jim Hall escaped from prison. He decides to get his revenge on the judge who put him behind bars and the judge was Scott’s father. The fugitive came to their house, ready to attack, but Fang stopped him. Hall shot Fang and his chances of surviving were little but he managed to survive anyway.
Characters: Henry, Bill, White Fang, Kiche, Grey Beaver, Lip-lip, Beauty Smith, Weedon Scott, Matt, judge Scott, Jim Hall
White Fang is the main character of the novel from whose perspective we keep up with the plot. His mother Kiche was half wolf and half dog so she had some dog instincts in her. he started his life in the wilderness where, as the only survivor out of five wolfs, he becomes curious, brave and strong. He felt that he belonged to the wilderness and that feeling was taken away from him when he was separated from his mother. He was forced to bow down to people and adapt to them. First, he felt like an intruder because other animals and some people were hostile towards him and he became filled with rage and cruel.
He learned to bow down to people’s will and he was loyal to his owner. His behavior becomes worse when he falls into Smith’s hands who made him a fighting dog. During his time spend with Scott he learns what love, devotion, and trust are.
Kiche was Fang’s mother. She took care of him in the wilderness and defended him from the other dogs in the village but she refused to run away with him. After being separated from Fang for a long time, she forgot about him and didn’t recognize him. She even attacked him because Kiche started perceiving him as a danger for her new baby wolves.
Grey Beaver was Fang’s first owner. He was righteous but never showed any emotions or love for White Fang but he took good care of him. Fang was loyal to him but he didn’t love him because he didn’t know what love was. His loyalty was so strong that even after running away from his owner he came looking for him.
Weedon Scott saved White Fang from dog fights and from getting killed. He provided him with a home and a lot of love. Scott gave him a second chance and it made Fang become loyal to him. When Scott left for his trip Fang lost his will to live because his love for Scott was too big. Scott took him to California with him where Fang even risked his life to protect Scott and his family from a fugitive.
Jack London Biography
Jack London was born in 1876. in San Francisco. His full name was John Griffith London. He was an American writer famous for the fact that he never finished school.
In his youth, he had a lot of different jobs such as a sailor, ice deliverer and he was even a gold hunter. His great passion were journeying.
He studied Marx, Darwin, and Nietzsche and dreamed about a revolution. He worked as a war informer during the Japanese – Russian war.
After he had got sick, he moved back to Oakland, and he died in 1916 in Glen Ellen.
He was rebellious, had a strong personality and never settled with the circumstances he lived in. He always tried to overcome them with the power of will.
He wrote novels, stories and he published about 50 books.
His most famous works are “The Sea Wolf”, “White Fang”, “The Valley of the Moon”, “The Iron Heel”, “A Sun of the Sun” and much more.