Study Guide

White Fang Summary

By Jack London

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White Fang Summary

We begin with hapless mushers Bill and Henry, taking a dead man in a coffin to civilization by means of dog sled. A pack of hungry wolves follows them, led by a reddish she-wolf who lures the dogs away with promises of sweet lovin' before the rest of her pack devours them. She gets the whole sled team, and the pack eventually takes down Bill, but Hank holds on long enough to be rescued (thanks to his mastery of Burning Pine Cone Fu).

We then switch gears to follow the wolf pack, which breaks up after a lot of high-fives and "jobs well done." The she-wolf travels with three male "suitors," who eventually kill each other off in an effort to become her squeeze. Only the oldest and sneakiest wolf, named One Eye, survives, earning him the right to, um, have a sleepover with the she-wolf.

Sometime later, puppies are born. The strongest of them survives famine, the departure of his father and a seriously scary weasel to start learning the ways of the Wild. Then his mom pulls a nasty trick on him by heading to a Native American camp where she used to be domesticated. The tribe takes both her and the puppy in. No more free frolicking for the pup.

A man named Grey Beaver dubs the puppy White Fang, but a cool handle doesn't make his life any easier. Other dogs, especially one named Lip-lip, give him all kinds of grief, and while Grey Beaver is a fair master, he doesn't share the love a whole lot. White Fang grows up as an outcast, since the other dogs smell wolf on him and hate it. He compensates by being mean, tricky, and oh so smart.

Life is tough but fair in the camp, and White Fang takes several trips with his master as the head of his dog team. Every time he leaves, he fights with the other dogs he meets. A man named Beauty Smith sees him in action and decides to turn him into a fighting dog. He plies Grey Beaver with whiskey, then takes White Fang off to twist him to his evil will. The twisting goes well: White Fang turns into a crazy, hate-filled beast, perfectly happy to kill any dog in the ring for laughs. Beauty collects a tasty profit along the way.

White Fang eventually gets so good at fighting that no one will face him… until the first bulldog arrives in the Territory. The two throw down in the ring, and the bulldog patiently wears White Fang down before clamping onto his throat. Seeing he's about to lose, Beauty starts beating White Fang. But then a miracle occurs—nice guy comes to the rescue. After slapping Beauty around like a rented mule, Weedon Scott pries the bulldog's jaws loose and takes White Fang to safety.

At first it seems like White Fang can't be rehabilitated, but Scott wields the mighty power of a scratch behind the ears and succeeds in taming the wolf. White Fang knows love for the first time and decides to do everything in his power to protect his new master. He even follows Scott home to California, where Scott's wary family eventually takes him in. He woos the local sheep dog, spawns a litter of puppies, and kills the escaped convict who shows up to kill Scott's judge father. That last bit turns out less than awesome when the convict pumps White Fang full of lead. But being the tough ex-wild-thing that he is, he pulls through in order to enjoy a nice snooze with the puppies in the sun.

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