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Free Study Guide-White Fang by Jack London-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

PART III

Chapter 5

Summary

In this chapter, White Fang is being trained as a sled-dog. Gray Beaver, Kloo-kooch, and Mit-sah go on a journey up the Mackenzie River. Gray Beaver drives a sled drawn by dogs that he has traded or borrowed. Mit-sah, who is learning to drive and train the dogs, drives a smaller sled drawn by puppies. The sled carries nearly two hundred pounds of gear and food. White Fang has a moss-stuffed collar put around his neck; it is connected by two pulling traces to a scarp that passes around his neck and over his back. A long rope, by which he pulls the sled, is fastened to this.

There are seven puppies in the team, some nine and ten months old; White Fang is eight months old. The sled that he pulls is one that does not move over the snow easily, helping to distribute the weight. Also, the ropes of varying lengths prevent the dogs from actually attacking the dogs in front of them. Lip-lip is at the end of the longest rope, leading the team, a fact that enrages the other puppies behind him, making them chase him and increasing the overall speed. What further enrages the other dogs is that Mit-sah favors Lip-lip over them.

White Fang does well as a sled dog even though he still fights with the other puppies when he can. Usually, however, he is too busy working. His team pulls the sled for months until they reach a village at the Great Slave Lake. There, White Fang eats some chips of frozen moose meat that a village boy has been chopping. The boy tries to beat White Fang, who in turn bites him. The boy's family is angry, but Gray Beaver defends him. The village boys come after Mit-sah, but they are also bitten by White Fang. It is obvious that he has learned to guard property, protect his master, and attack thieving strangers.



Notes

White Fang has become a domesticated creature, harnessed to a sled with the other dogs. The wise Indians put Lip-lip, who is hated by the other dogs, as the leader of the team, for the other dogs will chase him and make the sled go more rapidly. Mit-sah aggravates the hatred by favoring Lip-lip and feeding him extra food in the presence of other dogs. The Indians know that the more the team hates Lip-lip, the faster they will pull. Jack London calls such action "cunning indirection," through which man increases his mastery over the beasts.

White Fang performs well as a sled dog. He works hard, learns discipline, and is obedient; "faithfulness and willingness characterized his toil." When not working, he still wants to be left alone, and the animosity and hostility still exist between him and the others. When a fight flares up, White Fang is able to quickly subdue the other dogs.

White Fang's attitude towards life is quite pessimistic. He sees the world as cruel and merciless, with brutality the order of the day. He is suspicious of any man's hand, which he believes is raised to beat him. He also cannot tolerate children, who needlessly hurl sticks and stones at him. When he is unjustly beaten for eating the chips of moose meat, White Fang snaps at the child. Fortunately, Gray Beaver defends him against the angry parents. White Fang now understands when to defend others and when to stand up for himself. Knowing he will be rewarded, he saves Mit-sah from the rest of the village boys who come to attack. As a result of his action, he is given the responsibility of guarding his god's property and attacking thieves. White does his duty out of fear, not out of love, which he has never experienced.

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