Free Study Guide for White Fang by Jack London - Free Book Notes|
Downloadable / Printable Version
CHARACTER ANALYSIS (continued)
Beauty’s name is deceiving, for there is nothing beautiful about this dishonest and despicable man. He is known for his cowardly rages and the violence he inflicts. When he sees the power and strength of White Fang, he is very impressed; when he sees the wolf maul other dogs, Beauty is delighted and screams and jumps for joy. When there is something that Beauty wants, he will stoop to any trick to obtain it. He decides that White Fang should become his animal, for he wants to make him a fighter who can win him money from bets. Beauty feeds Gray Beaver alcohol until he is addicted to it; then Beauty trades Gray Beaver several bottle of whiskey for White Fang.
Beauty is a cruel, violent master. He keeps White Fang chained in a pen, and then beats and torments him to make him meaner. He capitalizes on White Fang’s sensitivity to laughter and mockery and teases him derisively. When he puts White Fang in the ring, he expects him to win, even if he is fighting a lynx or three other dogs. During the fights, he derives vicarious pleasure from the gory killings and gruesome wounds that White Fang inflicts. Because he wants to avoid Beauty’s violence and the shame of losing, White Fang is always the victor.
When Beauty pits White Fang against a ferocious bulldog, White Fang is pinned and is about to be killed. Weedon Smith rescues the wolf-dog, paying three hundred dollars for him. Beauty, who thinks that White Fang is a “goner,” is delighted with the sell. After all, he never cared for White Fang; he only used him to make money. It is no wonder that White Fang, lost most people, had an intense hatred for his master.
Lip-lip is one of the pups in the Indian camp where White Fang goes to live. From the beginning of his stay there, Lip-lip plays a major role as one of White Fang’s key enemies. The dog’s survival instinct comes close to that of the wolf cub. He taunts White Fang unmercifully and wins all his fights against him; he also makes all the other camp dogs hate White Fang. Had it not been for Lip-lip’s hostility and aggression toward White Fang, the wolf cub would have been different. Lip-lip’s provocation leads White Fang into constant fights, making him strong, determined, and powerful. White Fang also develops an antipathy for members of his own kind because of Lip-lip and spends most of his dog days as a morose loner. During one of the famines, White Fang encounters Lip-lip again, and his hatred for the dog is immediate. They ferociously fight, and White Fang, for the first time, emerges victorious, killing his arch enemy.
Weedon Scott is White Fang’s savior. When the wolf-dog is pinned in the ring by a bull dog, he is near death. Scott saves him by offering to pay Beauty Smith three hundred dollars. He then pries the bulldog’s jaws off White Fang’s throat and has his assistant lift the near-dead wolf-dog from the ring. Then Scott nurses White Fang back to health. This kindly master believes that love begets love, but he is disappointed that White Fang at first refuses to respond to the affection he shows him. Even after two weeks of encourage, the wolf-dog will not come near Scott. Encouraged by Matt, his assistant and dog-muster, Scott does not give up. Finally, by coaxing him ever closer with meat, Scott is able to reach out and touch White Fang. Amazingly, the wolf-dog responds to the gentle touch and before long allows Scott to pet him. The master then begins to train White Fang to appropriate behavior through controlling his voice level. An intelligent animal, White Fang learns quickly and becomes obedient, responding favorably to kindness over violence.
Before long, White Fang accepts Scott as his “god” and become attached to him for his kindness and gentleness. Since he has never known love or affection before, White Fang is soon totally devoted to his master and guards him and his property. He does not even mind when Scott laughs at him, for he understands that his master offers good-natured humor rather than mockery.
White Fang cannot stand to be left behind by Scott. When the master once travels away from home, White Fang refuses to eat or drink. Matt has to call Scott home in order to save the wolf-dog’s life. When White Fang sees his master making preparation to return home to California, he is miserable and again refuses to eat. When Scott is ready to depart on the boat, he sadly bids White Fang good-bye and locks him in the cabin. White Fang refuses to stay behind and races ahead and boards the steamer. The kind Scott, seeing White Fang’s complete devotion, decides the wolf-dog can go with him to California, where he works to train White Fang to adjust to his new and more domesticated life.
Judge Scott is the father of Weedon Scott, White Fang’s master. He scoffs at his son’s devotion to White Fang and believes the wolf-dog will never learn the rules of living in a country home in California. When he sees White Fang’s intelligence and obedience for himself, he is impressed and warms to the wolf-dog. White Fang is fond of the judge because his master is fond of the man. Before long, White Fang often sits with the judge as he reads his newspaper.
Judge Scott is also the man who imprisoned Jim Hall. As a result, he is the person against whom Hall seeks revenge. Fortunately, White Fang is standing guard when Hall breaks into the Scott household. Since the wolf-dog does not know this stranger and senses danger, he attacks and kills him, although he is badly wounded in the fight. Above everyone, the judge makes every effort to save White Fang’s life in appreciation for the wolf-dog’s efforts.
Jim Hall is a convict who has been erroneously accused of a crime that he did not commit. During his stay in prison, he grows angry, violent, and vengeful and becomes determined to strike back at Judge Hall, who was responsible for his imprisonment. When he escapes from jail, he heads to the home of Judge Scott, harming everything and everyone who tries to stop him along the way. Once he arrives at Sierra Vista, he sneaks into the house. White Fang, always on guard, hears Hall’s strange, silent footsteps. Not recognizing the stranger, he attacks and kills Hall.
Ironically, Hall and White Fang share many similarities. Both have been provoked into aggression in early childhood and are prone to violence. Both have been falsely accused. Both have lived miserable lives, trapped in some kind of cage. Additionally, Hall’s killing spree mirrors White Fang’s fights with dogs that he always kills; neither of them spares someone or something that stands in their way. In the end, White Fang turns his aggression to good, probably saving the life of Judge Scott; unfortunately for Hall, he does not live long enough to channel his aggression in any positive way because of White Fang.
Scott’s sheepdog in California is apprehensive about White Fang from the very beginning. Her instinct senses the wildness in this wolf-dog whom she fears by nature. She takes advantage of every opportunity to harass him and is often openly hostile. She is amazed that White Fang refuses to fight her, but the wolf-dog instinctively knows it is wrong to fight with a female dog, especially one that belongs to the master. At first, White Fang just tries to ignore her. But as time passes, he soon wins her over and fathers her puppies.
Downloadable / Printable Version
White Fang by Jack London - Free BookNotes Online Book Summary