Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 4 Chapter 16 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 4, Chapter 16 : The Superior Gods (The Mad God) | Summary



Many men take note of White Fang's attacks, but none more so than Beauty Smith, a hideous and cruel "monstrosity" who delights in the vicious, bloody fights. Instinctively, White Fang knows to avoid Beauty Smith, but that doesn't stop the nasty man from following him everywhere. Obsessed, Beauty Smith tries to buy White Fang, but Gray Beaver has no interest in money. He has made a fortune from his sales, and White Fang's talents are unmatched by any other dog on Gray Beaver's team. Undeterred, Beauty Smith, who "knew the ways of Indians," gives alcohol to Gray Beaver. Before long, Gray Beaver is completely addicted and loses his entire fortune to feed his addiction. When Gray Beaver has spent all his money and lost all his possessions, Beauty Smith offers a few more bottles in exchange for White Fang. Gray Beaver eagerly accepts. White Fang escapes Beauty Smith's camp and tries to return to Gray Beaver three times, but each time, Beauty Smith returns and brutally beats White Fang. Eventually, White Fang accepts Beauty Smith as his new master.


Things go from bad to worse for White Fang when Beauty Smith buys him. Again, the scenes between Gray Beaver and Beauty Smith rely on stereotypes of alcoholic Indians, with the inference that Gray Beaver's drinking is simply the "way of Indians."

Interesting comparisons are made between Beauty Smith and White Fang—both creatures are nasty bullies who exploit the weaknesses of those around them, yet the reader likely feels more sympathy for White Fang. Similar comparisons are made later in the novel with convict Jim Hall. The suggestion here is that although they are victims of their environment just like White Fang, Beauty Smith, and later Jim Hall, is undeserving of sympathy or redemption because he was ill-formed from the start: "Nature had been niggardly with him." A "monstrosity" from birth, Beauty Smith had no choice but to fulfill his evil destiny.

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