Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 4 Chapter 20 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 4, Chapter 20 : The Superior Gods (The Love-Master) | Summary

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Summary

White Fang continues to wait anxiously for his punishment after biting both Weedon and Matt, but the punishment never comes. Weedon refuses to tie up White Fang, always speaks softly to him, and regularly offers him tender meat. Despite himself, White Fang begins to trust Weedon. Weedon lures White Fang to him by tossing bits of meat closer and closer until he's able to calmly rest his hand on White Fang's head. For White Fang, "it was a torment, this hand that touched him and violated his instinct," but he does not pull away. Each day, White Fang's trust and affection for Weedon grows, and he takes on the same roles he had with previous masters, dutifully guarding their home and belongings. White Fang finds himself filled with meaning, belonging, and love whenever he's in Weedon's presence, but darker emotions return when he is left alone. Before long, White Fang is completely devoted to Weedon, so much so that "even meat itself he would forego to be with his god." White Fang soon begins leading Weedon's sled dogs, but the experience is different than with Gray Beaver's dogs. He feels part of a team and less like a target.

One day, Weedon disappears. He has left for a work expedition, but there is no way of explaining this to White Fang, who desperately misses his master. He stops eating and mopes around the front door, waiting for Weedon's return. The wolf's depression is so bad Matt writes a letter to Weedon, expressing his worry. When Weedon finally returns, the joy returns to White Fang, who rushes toward his master and snuggles his head alongside Weedon's side. This act is the closest White Fang comes to showing affection, and he only expresses his emotions this way with Weedon. Shortly after, Beauty Smith sneaks onto Weedon's homestead and tries to steal White Fang back, but White Fang attacks him. White Fang belongs wholeheartedly to Weedon.

Analysis

For the first time since leaving his mother, White Fang experiences love, although it takes him quite a while to learn to trust it. Weedon is unlike any of White Fang's previous masters because he trusts White Fang as a partner, much like the she-wolf did all those years ago in the cave. White Fang no longer fears being beaten or abused and thus feels part of a pack for the first time. This is best highlighted in his role as leader of Weedon's dogsled. While running for Gray Beaver, the formation of the dogs left one dog out front while the rest of the dogs fanned around him. All the dogs chased the leader in the hope of tearing him apart. On Weedon's team, White Fang is a leader in the truest sense. The dogs form a single line, blindly following the leader, whom they trust to lead them in the right direction.

White Fang adapts to his new environment by learning to temper his violent outbursts, to respect the property of his master, and to avoid fights with the other dogs. The primal, vicious wolf hasn't disappeared from White Fang's makeup; its passion has simply been redirected. Now, instead of using violent anger to protect himself, White Fang uses it at the service of his master. The only time the reader sees White Fang's violence is at the end of the chapter, when Beauty Smith attempts to steal White Fang back. By attacking Beauty Smith, White Fang avenges himself but also affirms his relationship to his new master (recall how he repeatedly fought to return to Gray Beaver out of a sense of loyalty). The attack also shows White Fang's restraint. Although he could have easily killed Beauty Smith, he only injures him.

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