Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
White Fang is told in six parts. In the first, two frontiersmen, Bill and Henry, have a running battle with a wolfpack. In the second, the perspective shifts to the wolves, especially One-Eye and Kiche, whose mating produces White Fang. The perspective shifts for the last time to White Fang himself. The last four parts consist first of White Fang living with his mother in the wild and then his life under three very different human masters.
Jack London uses the omniscient third-person narrator throughout the book. In the first part, Henry and Bill are driving a dogsled containing the corpse of an English lord whose body they are taking back to civilization. They discover that they are being followed by a pack of wolves. A she-wolf lures the sled dogs one at a time outside their camp at night, and the wolves kill and eat them. For some reason, Henry and Bill have only one rifle and three bullets. Bill wastes those bullets in a futile pursuit of the wolves, which kill and eat him. Henry stays alive by keeping a fire going. Finally, another dogsled team traveling in the opposite direction rescues him.
The perspective then changes to the she-wolf. She and the pack search for food while at the same time three males show an interest in her. The first is a large gray wolf who is leader of the pack, the second an old wolf without his right eye, and the third a three-year-old male. The gray wolf and the old wolf, called One-Eye, team up to kill...
(The entire section is 711 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of White Fang Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Jack London intended White Fang to be an optimistic sequel to his more famous book, The Call of the Wild. White Fang shows the power of human kindness to transform a savage beast into a devoted pet. White Fang offers more than an animal story about the taming of a wild wolf-dog, named White Fang. It attempts to show how the dramatic changes in White Fang's character are produced by the changes in his social and natural environment. The book explores sociological questions about human behavior—what causes individuals to act either savagely or civilly? In White Fang, London shows that civilization is as potent a force as nature in shaping individual behavior. The theme that environment determines character, prominent in much of London's fiction, applies here to humans as well as to animals.
The Call of the Wild has been described as a fable of an animal who survives through strength and cunning. White Fang is more of a parable that portrays the strength of love to transform animosity into peace and harmony. White Fang's progression from hunting to barbaric servitude to domestic tranquility reflects London's understanding of Darwin and promotes an optimistic view of human civilization. White Fang provides an exciting series of conflicts, between wild beasts struggling for survival, between humans struggling for mastery of White Fang, and between two sides of White Fang's inner nature.
(The entire section is 229 words.)
Part 1—The Wild. 1: The Trail of Meat
Two men, Henry and Bill, are hiking through a spruce forest in the far North. It is deep winter. Snow covers the ground. The temperature is far below zero, and it is light only for a few hours each day. With the men is a team of six sled dogs. On the sled, along with equipment and supplies, is a coffin that holds the body of a man called Lord Alfred. Henry and Bill are taking the body to Fort McGurry. They constantly hear wolves howling, and they know that the nearly starved wolves are tracking them in hopes of killing them for food.
After the men make camp for the night, Bill feeds the dogs. He later tells Henry that seven dogs, not six, came to be fed. The men realize that one was a somewhat tame wolf. That night, one of their dogs disappears, lured away and eaten by the wolves.
2: The She-Wolf
The next morning, the men set off with the five remaining dogs. That evening, the tame wolf again comes to eat, but Bill sees her and drives her off. The following morning, another dog is missing. As the men camp the next evening, the wolves come closer. The men wish they could shoot at them to scare them away, but they have only three cartridges left. They decide that the tame wolf must actually be a dog. Bill tries to secure the dogs so that they cannot leave the camp, but that night a third dog disappears. Bill begins to be extremely anxious, convinced that the wolves will eventually...
(The entire section is 2979 words.)