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

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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES


PART V


CHAPTER 4


Summary

White Fang does not really have much to do in California. At first, he is not friendly with the other dogs and vaguely misses the excitement of fighting. When Scott goes out on horseback, White Fang eagerly follows, traveling for miles. Once, Scott falls off his horse and breaks his leg. Unable to move, he orders White Fang to go home, where the dog growls and attracts the attention of his master’s wife. He finally convinces the family to follow him back to Scott, but only after barking, which he is reluctant to do. He has not yet adopted all canine habits.

White Fang grows more mellow in Sierra Vista. He actually begins to play with Collie and actually misses an outing with Scott in order to be with the sheepdog. He also learns to tolerate laughter when it is issued by Scott.


Notes

The author describes White Fang’s new life at Scott’s home, where he constantly experiences human kindness. Since there is little for him to do, he eagerly chases his master each time he goes for a horseback

ride. He also learns to tolerate his master’s laughter and to play with Collie. During the chapter, White Fang proves his worth when Scott falls off his horse and breaks his leg. By returning home and barking, White Fang convinces the family to follow him; he leads them to the fallen Scott, perhaps saving his master’s life.



PART V


CHAPTER 5


Summary

This last chapter tells of an escaped convict, Jim Hall. He was long ago sentenced to fifty years in prison by Judge Scott. Innocent of the crime, Hall resents the judge who put him away and seeks revenge. Three years of life in a prison cell have made him morose, indignant, violent, and bitter. He escapes from jail by killing the guards with his own bare hands. When the news of Hall’s escape reaches Sierra Vista, the family becomes very anxious. For protection, Alice, Judge Scott’s wife, lets White Fang into the house every night when the family goes to sleep, even though the judge does not allow the dog inside.

Early one morning, White Fang hears strange footsteps inside the house. Suspicious of the stranger that he finds, he attacks silently and furiously. When the family wakes up, they find Jim Hall lying dead in their home. White Fang, too, is severely wounded, with one broken hind-leg, three broken ribs, a great loss of blood, and three bullet holes. The family spares no expense to save his life, and their attempts are rewarded. White Fang is then dubbed “the Blessed Wolf” by Alice Scott. He also becomes the proud father of puppies, which Collie jealously guards.


Notes

This chapter introduces Jim Hall, a convict who is shown to be similar in many ways to White Fang. Both man and wolf have been exposed to aggression in childhood, which causes them both to become violent. The worse each behaves, the worse each is treated by society. Like White Fang, Hall has taken many beatings and has suffered a great deal; he has also been unfairly locked up, like White Fang. In San Quentin Prison, Hall becomes incorrigible, almost animal-like in his behavior. In order to escape and avenge his erroneous imprisonment, he kills two guards with his bare hands, just as White Fang has killed with his bare teeth. The police have put out a reward for Jim Hall, and many greedy farmers go out of their way to hunt him down, as if he were an animal. Just as White Fang killed all the dogs who hindered him in his progress, so does Jim Hall kill all the people who get in his way. Just as White Fang tries to kill Beauty Smith to avenge the wrongs inflicted on him, Jim Hall seeks to kill Judge Scott. White Fang, however, stands in the way of Jim Hall’s goal. When he finds the stranger in the Scott household, he attacks and kills, risking his own life in the process.

White Fang’s injuries inflicted by Jim Hall leave him with a thousand to one chance of survival. The Scott family, however, owes the wolf-dog a great debt and does everything possible to save him. The novel ends on an optimistic note with White Fang surviving his injuries and becoming a father.

 

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