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Free Study Guide for White Fang by Jack London - Free Book Notes

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The conflict of a plot is the major problem experienced by the protagonist.


The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. White Fang, the wolf-dog, is the protagonist of the novel. His wild, aggressive nature makes him the enemy of his own kind, as well as of most humans.


Traditionally, the antagonist of a story is the character or force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. White Fang’s antagonist is his fear and distrust of humans. Beauty Smith, a cruel man, introduces White Fang to dog fights and makes money off of him. At the insistence of Weedon Scott, he lets White Fang go, but later he tries to steal him back. White Fang detests him and ultimately loses his trust for all humans because of Beauty Smith.


The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax occurs after Weedon Scott saves White Fang’s life at a time when the wolf-dog is highly suspicious of humans. His ‘mastery’ over White Fang and love for him is something this animal has never experienced before. Scott’s kindness to White Fang totally transforms the dog into a faithful and gentle pet. The moment of climax occurs when White Fang, after much attention and coaxing, allows Scott to pet him.


The story ends in comedy, for White Fang overcomes his fear and mistrust of humans. At the end of the novel, White Fang is totally transformed. He is devoted to Scott, tolerant of children, and able to accept laughter. Scott’s kindness and patience finally reaches White Fang, and he becomes domesticated in the true sense of the word. He is no longer aggressive, but he would do anything to protect his master. To save Judge Scott’s life, he attacks and kills Jim Hall. In the process, White Fang is injured, almost to the point of death. The family, however, nurses him back to health and fatherhood. Although the story is filled with violence and hardship, the outcome of this novel is decidedly happy.


The story centers around White Fang, the gray wolf cub born of Kiche and One Eye. He is shown to be different from the other pups in his litter and grows to be highly aggressive and morose. Some of his masters, like Gray Beaver and Beauty Smith, do not show him any kindness whatsoever. He learns to obey the stick that is freely applied by his masters and becomes violent in the process, snapping and growling at both animals and humans. White Fang wants to be left alone all the time, but he is made to fight dogs, wolves, and even a lynx. This combat only reinforces his hatred towards every living creature.

Weedon Scott, a mining expert, enters White Fang’s life when the wolf is nearly killed in a fight with Cherokee, a bulldog. Scott takes White Fang away with him. He shows him kindness, pats him, speaks to him reassuringly, and eventually succeeds in gaining White Fang’s undying love and devotion. Because of this gentle treatment, White Fang transforms from the killer wolf-dog that he once was. He becomes totally devoted to his kind master and guards Scott’s property and family at any price. He kills Jim Hall, the convict out to hurt Scott’s father. White Fang, however, is severely wounded during this confrontation. The family does their best to save his life, and White Fang survives to become the father of Collie’s puppies. In the course of the book, White Fang finally learns to give and receive affection.


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