Free Study Guide for White Fang by Jack London - Free Book Notes|
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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
London has neatly divided the book into five parts. Part I, consisting of three
chapters, gives an introduction to the unexplored land of Northland Wild through
the perspective of two human characters, Bill and Henry. It clearly sets the mood
for the entire novel. It also introduces the pack of wolves who inhabit this area
and whose story is later elaborated upon in Part II. The she-wolf, her mates,
and their experiences form Part II. The cub, who later grows up to be White Fang,
also makes an entrance here, commencing the rising action. His experiences in
the wild and his physical and mental growth are recounted in detail. In Part III,
the rising action continues as White Fang meets his man-masters, the makers of
fire, with whom he has to spend a considerable amount of time. White Fang undergoes
famines and journeys and other hardships which contribute to his personality.
In Part IV, the story takes a turn, with the historical setting of the
gold rush. White Fang is introduced to the white gods, and he encounters Beauty
Smith, under whom he is trained for dogfights. The first four chapters are devoted
to these dog-fights and Smith’s brutal treatment of White Fang. Towards the end
of IV, Weedon Scott enters and remains until the end of the book. In chapter six,
the climax occurs, when White Fang finally overcomes his fear and distrust and
allows Scott to pet him. In Part V, which is largely falling action, Scott takes
White Fang along with him to his home in California, where the wolf-dog must learn
a new set of laws. He learns quickly and also ingratiates himself to the family
by saving the life of Judge Scott. The conclusion occurs at the end of the book
when White Fang is nursed back to health after his fight with Jim Hall and becomes
the father of Collie’s puppies, giving the novel a happy ending.
of the episodic nature of the novel, the geographical setting varies greatly.
Part I and Part II are set in the Northland Wild, largely in the brutally cold
and snowy winter. Part III shifts to the Indian camp and a time of more temperate
weather. Part IV takes the reader to Fort Yukon, and Part V is basically in California.
In spite of these shifting settings, the constancy of theme and character
and the intensely developed plot hold the novel together.
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
of the Fittest
One of the dominant themes in the novel is the
Darwinian theory of “the survival of the fittest.” White Fang and his mother (Kiche,
the she-wolf) are both exposed to the cruel ways of nature. As a responsible and
clever leader, Kiche guides her pack of wolves through the cold, brutal, dead
environment of Northland Wild. The bitter temperature and lack of food make it
difficult to exist, but Kiche is intelligent, strong, and determined. She survives
by luring sled dogs away from their camp and devouring them. When necessary for
survival, she will even attack a human.
White Fang is also exposed to
the harshness of nature. At an early age, he learns hunger, as he fights to survive
several famines. He also learns that he must learn to fight to survive, for the
law of nature is to “eat or be eaten.” The fight with the lynx, the battles with
Lip-lip, and the dogfights in the ring all teach him survival skills. He also
learns that man is a powerful beast, and the beating from the hands of humans
make White Fang even more determined to come out on top.
The urge to survive
is seen throughout every chapter in White Fang, serving as a unifying
theme to hold the exciting episodes of the book together.
Love begets love is another important theme of the novel.
Throughout most of his early life, White Fang knows nothing but cruelty and violence.
As a result, he develops hatred and aggression. His first master, Gray Beaver,
beats White Fang into submission and obedience; in spite of the violence, the
wolf-dog respects and obeys Gray Beaver, not out of love, but out of a fear of
punishment. White Fang’s second master, Beauty Smith, inspires nothing but hatred,
for he is a mean, violent, and cruel man. Weedon Smith, White Fang’s third master,
is a total contrast to the first two, for he is a kind and gentle man who gives
the wolf-dog affection and teaches him to love.
Scott rescues White Fang
from certain death, for he is pinned by a bulldog, who is attacking his throat.
Because he is a kind man, he nurses White Fang to health and gives him affection.
At first White Fang is distrustful, because of his earlier experiences; but Scott
has patience and continues to encourage the wolf-dog. He finally coaxes White
Fang to him by using pieces of meet. Before long, White Fang allows Scott to pet
him. Then when Scott tries to teach White Fang, he uses voice control rather than
violence. White Fang is totally amazed and learns quickly from this new style
of teaching. He also becomes totally devoted to Scott for his kindness and affection.
In fact when Scott goes away, White Fang is so miserable that he cannot eat or
drink. When Scott hears that White Fang is growing ill, he rushes home. There
is obviously a deep, mutual love between this gentle master and fierce wolf-dog,
proving that love does indeed beget love.
1. Describe the Northland Wild and Bill’s experiences there.
Describe the wolf-pack’s experiences in the Wild.
3. What kind of mother
4. How is the gray cub different from the others in the litter?
5. Is White Fang born aggressive, or is he made aggressive? Fully explain
6. What role does Lip-lip play in White Fang’s development?
7. Describe in detail White Fang’s experiences with Gray Beaver.
Describe his experience with Beauty Smith.
9. How does Scott succeed in “taming”
10. Does White Fang belong in the city or in the Wild? Support
11. Show how White Fang is different from the other “domesticated”
12. Which human qualities are attributed to White Fang? Do they benefit
him or deter him? Explain you answer.
13. Jim Hall and White Fang share
a similar background. Explain how.
14. What are the two major themes of the
novel? How are they developed and how are they related?
15. The novel is
filled with violence. How can it be classified as a comedy?
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Fang by Jack London - Free BookNotes Online Book Summary