Boekverslag : Jack London - White Fang
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White Fang


Jack London


Pocket Classics, La Spige Languages, London.

The story tells about a wolf cub, with some dog in it, which grows up with Indians, learning that fighting and savagery are the only ways of survival, until, after a life of brutality and hate, it learns that man can give love and kindness.

The main character of the story is the wolf White Fang. He was born as the cub of a half-dog she-wolf and an old wolf called One-Eye. The cub looked like his mother, with a red trail over its back. As each little wolf, it was raised to find food and to smell blood. This was its instinct. When its mother returned to the Indians, Grey Beaver took the cub and called it White Fang. The little wolf was treated like a savage by the Indians: he was beaten, shed from his mother, had to fight the dominant trail-dogs (trail=slede) and was mismanaged by the children.

One day Grey Beaver went to Dawson, North of the Mackenzie River, to sell skins and mocassins since he heard that many gold explorers came there. In a Fort nearby Dawson, he met with “Beauty” Smith, a local burglar (oplichter). Grey Beaver needed money and sold White Fang to Smith. The wolf was then captured in a cage and had to fight sometimes five dogs per day for betting (weddenschappen). One day, White Fang had to fight against a big bull-dog and nearly did not survive that fight.

It was then that arrived the mine-expert Weedon Scott who bought White Fang, half dead, from Smith. Scott managed to make White Fang understand that he was a human being who White Fang could not only trust, but also love.

The story ends in Sierra Vista in California, where White Fang finally became Scott’s pet, nevertheless protecting Scott’s house against an escaped killer. The story ends with the birth of White Fang’s cubs, which he had with a shepherd called Collie.

The story starts in the cold desert of North-West Canada and Alaska, and ends up in California in South-West United States. The settings are first the mercyless wilderness of the wolf herd, then the Indian village, followed by the goldrush-cities and ending up in California. The life of Wild Fang plays always outdoors.

The period is the end of last century, when the North-West of Canada was rushed by gold-seekers and when the mixing of Indians and white people was going on. Many white immigrants still arrived at that time by river boats to look for luckier lives.

The most striking theme is when White Fang is saved from the savage Beauty Smith by Weedon Scott. Scott arrives just in time to save White Fang from a sure death.

Only ten years are covered in the book. At the end of the story, White Fang is about ten years old. The story is steadily going on without flashbacks or forshadowings. The only retro-acts are the memories of White Fang to his life with his mother as a wolf cub and to the moments with the Indians and Smith.

The story is told by an observer, who was very familiar with the psychology of a wolf-dog and with the cultural situations of his period. Indeed, the author, Jack London lived himself in the described regions as a gold explorer.
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