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White Fang

White Fang

by Jack London

White Fang Part 1 Summary

The Trail of the Meat

  • Two men, Bill and Henry, apparently drew the short straw, and have to haul a dead body to Fort McGurry.
  • Along the way, they are chased by a pack of hungry wolves (and really, is there any other kind?). 
  • One clever wolf, a female with a red sheen to her coat, is sneaking into the camp and stealing fish. She cunningly makes the two men lose count of how many dogs are on their team.
  • The she-wolf lures away one of the dogs, Fatty, with promises of canine seduction. Then her pack-mates eat him. Talk about a honey trap.
  • The men are sad and worried that Fatty is gone, but press on their way.

The She-Wolf

  • We get a lather, rinse and repeat of chapter 1, as the she-wolf lures away a second dog. "A gloomy breakfast" is consumed afterwards (as opposed to all those cheerful breakfasts people eat when being chased by wolves).
  • Bill ties the remaining dogs up with leather thongs and sticks to keep them from chasing after the canine Mata Hari.
  • It doesn't work: a third dog is lured away and eaten. The men find the stick they had tied them with… the only thing left of the dog.
  • They push on, despite the fact that the sun doesn't come up until nine in the morning and Bill has only three rounds left in his gun. Yikes.
  • They spot the she-wolf on the trail. She's unimpressed by their manly-man attempts to scare her.
  • Bill vows a bloody, terrible revenge against her, which clearly ain't gonna happen.
  • That night when they camp, the wolves draw in closer. They must keep the fire burning and their dulcet slumber is interrupted by seriously freaked out sled dogs.

The Hunger Cry

  • The trip continues, but the sled gets tangled between a rock and a tree.
  • While the men try to get it unstuck, a dog named One Ear runs off with the she-wolf. The men get a front-row seat to his seduction and consumption by the wolf pack.
  • Bill runs off to rescue the dog. Henry hears the gunshots, but Bill doesn't come back. It's wolves: 5, men: 0 going into the fourth quarter.
  • Henry pushes on, but has to stop for the night… with a boatload of firewood and an axe to keep him company.
  • It doesn't work. The wolves get even closer, despite the fact that he occasionally smites them with burning wood. 
  • The next morning, Henry builds a scaffold to keep the coffin safe. Because the most important thing in this scenario is the welfare of a man who is already dead.
  • He pushes on, but he's getting awfully tired and the wolves are getting closer. Every time he dozes, he risks ending up a hors d'oeuvre for the pack. Henry starts thinking of his body in a disturbing way: as meat for the wolves.
  • The next morning, he can't make it back to the trail, and the wolves are ready to end the charade once and for all.
  • At night, he slips into a dream… about wolves. Gee, we wonder why? He wakes up to see the dream brought to glorious life. The wolves are trying to eat him. Wacky (read: horrifying) mayhem ensues.
  • He fights off the wolves by pulling hot coals out of the fire and flinging them at the wolves. The last two dogs get eaten, but Henry lives to fling hot coals another day.
  • He then sets the fire in a circle and crouches inside of it. It holds them off for a while, but eventually burns low. Henry finally gives up the fight and goes to sleep.
  • He wakes up to see the she-wolf looking at him, then wakes up again. The wolves are gone and men have come to rescue him. Naturally, they're more interested in the body he left than his well being. At least he's dedicated.

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