White Fang

Published February 18, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of White Fang by Jack London

Overview (my own this time): The story begins with a team of dogs, led by two men, who get picked off one by one. The two men discover that a she-wolf and her pack are responsible. They try to eliminate her and fail. The she-wolf then finds a mate, produces a litter of pups that includes our title character.

White Fang follows his mother until he is torn away from her by their mutual owner who then gives her away. Suffering abuse from his various “gods”/owners, he comes to find a loving home with a man named Scott. But even after all of this, his troubles are not over, not by a long shot.

My Review:

I read this book a couple of months ago and had always intended to review it but other books seemed to take precedence. I am not sure why exactly as this is a great book. I think I was afraid that the reader might be bored with another classic book on my blog since I was reading a lot of them. So I made a mental note to review it later.

Well, later is here and I regret having put it off this long.  After reading both this book as well as The Call of the Wild, I can see why London has such a well-deserved reputation as a great storyteller. In both of his books, he somehow manages to tell his stories through the eyes of canines in such a way as to keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat. On top of that, London reawakened some emotions in me that I didn’t know I had.

That being said, London’s stories are realistic. Life in the Yukon is hard for both humans and animals. It brings out the beast in both. In many ways his stories remind me of those portrayed in the movies of Frank Capra. These characters go to hell and back but emerge stronger but flawed as a result of their experiences.

I nearly cried many times while reading this story. White Fang suffers such abuse that I began to wonder how the story would end. I hoped that he would find a loving home but the brutal world in which he lived made that outcome unlikely. He survived not only his own mother’s harsh treatment, but also that of his human “gods.”

The story was often violent but not in an unrealistic way. However, if you find violence too upsetting you might want to skip this novel. I don’t know what made Disney think this would make a good family movie (they changed a lot of things in the story I am sure). I would not read it to a young child.

Still, it is a book worth reading and it is only 163 pages on my nook so it is not like it was huge investment of my time. Mr. London sets a good example to other writers who want to tell their story without a lot of ado and let their reader be the judge. I will close here with a quote that I liked from the story and then a video of the introduction of the Disney movie which is at least helpful in setting the stage for the time period in which this story took place.

“Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and the over-guessed, vapors and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of desired goodness and power, intangible outcroppings of self into the realm of spirit- unlike man, the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to the fire find their gods in the living flesh, solid to the touch, occupied earth-space and requiring time for the accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to believe in such a god; no effort of will can possible induce disbelief in such a god. There is no getting away from it. There it stands, on its two hind-legs, club in hand, immensely potential, passionate and wrathful and loving, god and mystery and power all wrapped up and around by flesh that bleeds when it is torn and that is good to eat like any flesh.

And so it was with White Fang.” p. 68-69

Contains: the violence that is contained both in the natural and the human world.


2 comments on “White Fang

  • Isn’t it amazing the way someone manages to look at a book and see a movie? I can’t imagine making a kids movie out of White Fang! But then, Disney managed to make a kids movie out of The Hunchback of Notre Dame…and I’ve no idea at all how the musical of Wicked came out of that novel either.

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