White Fang Paperback – 7 November 2017
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Hugely popular among younger readers, White Fang by Jack London was a runaway hit when it first debuted in 1906, as a serial story in the Outing magazine. Since then it continues to enjoy immense acclaim and popularity as a coming of age allegory where a nonconformist youngster is transformed into a responsible citizen.
The most appealing aspect of White Fang is that it's told from the point of view of an animal, in this case an Alaskan Husky. Like Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, White Fang also addresses ethical issues, social injustices and cruelty to our four footed friends.
Set in the harsh environment of Canada's Yukon territory, White Fang tells the gripping tale of a young half breed pup, born of a wild mother who is herself half dog, half wolf. The bloody battles for survival among the denizens of this frozen land are wonderfully depicted. As a pup, White Fang and his mother, One-Eye, survive vicious attacks by other wolves and a vengeful lynx whose kittens were killed by One-Eye. Once, while roaming close to a Native Indian encampment, One-Eye is recognized by Grey Beaver, a young hunter whose dead brother had tamed her many years ago. Grey Beaver adopts the young pup and names him White Fang.
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- Publisher : iBoo Press House (7 November 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 220 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1641810769
- ISBN-13 : 978-1641810760
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 1.27 x 20.32 cm
- Customer reviews:
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White Fang has problems with the Indians' other dogs since one of them, Lip-lip, takes against him from the start and attacks him at every opportunity. Since the others follow Lip-lip's lead, White Fang has to tread very carefully. More importantly, perhaps, he learns to fight. This is not play-fighting but a matter of life and death, so he soon learns to dispense with the formalities (growling, hair standing on end etc) and goes straight for the jugular. This is not the best way for a puppy to grow up, but his fighting skills stand him in good stead.
Unfortunately, they are noticed by one Beauty Smith, a nasty piece of works who buys him from Grey Beaver to use as a fighting dog. He is finally rescued from Beauty Smith by Weedon Scott, a gold prospector. Over a period of time, Weedon gets round White Fang to the point where they not only trust each other but like each other. Given White Fang's past life, there are reverses along the way and it does not happen quickly. But it happens.
The book has many strengths. London's description of the adversities of outdoor life in the frozen wastes of Canada are excellent and his grasp of detail good. But his boldest effort is taking us into the mind of White Fang as he develops. This is obviously a dangerous area since it would be very easy to attribute human thoughts and feelings to an animal which the animal could never entertain. (And it is doubly dangerous now, given the amount of research into the behaviour of wolves which has taken place since the book was written.) But London is clearly aware of this danger and goes to great lengths to avoid it.
Apart from a few references to Grey Beaver's squaw, there are no women characters in this book, but since women characters are not London's strong point this is probably an advantage. And some might feel that the book ends in an unexpectedly warm glow, with White Fang at home with the Scott family in California. The only reply to this is that such an outcome, though unlikely, is not impossible, and it is probably necessary to show that kindness is the way to go with animals and reaps its own reward. And by extension, this nostrum might even be extended to people.
I first read this book at the age of ten, and it taught me what escaping into a book is really all about. This is a story that can be enjoyed by anyone over the age of eight, and still carries as much relevance today as it did all those years ago. As soon as I got a Kindle I downloaded a copy, and enjoyed reading the book as much as I did 40 years ago.
Brilliantly written and richly evocative; every child should read this as a part of their literary education. Recommended!!