Book Review: White Fang by Jack London
White Fang is born in the wild 1/4 dog and 3/4 wolf. He soon finds himself back in the realm of man when his mother returns to the Indian camp she had left. Thus begins the struggle between White Fang’s desire for the companionship of the human gods and the call of the wild inside him.
This companion novel to The Call of the Wild flips the original story on its head. Instead of it being a dog feeling the call of the wild, we have a wolf feeling the call of the companionship of man, in spite of mistreatment. The story doesn’t quite work as well when reversed in that way, though.
Both White Fang and Buck suffer mistreatment at the hands of men that is incredibly painful for an animal lover to read about. Whereas this served to make it understandable why Buck leaves for the wild, though, it makes it difficult to understand why White Fang doesn’t do the same. Yes, eventually he meets a master who loves him and cares for him, but for years prior that is not the case. Perhaps London is attempting to demonstrate the intense loyalty of dogs to their masters whether or not they deserve it. It is true that animal rights workers see this sort of situation over and over again, yet White Fang is mostly wolf. It is difficult to believe his wild nature would not take over at some point, particularly when being mistreated. If this story was told of a dog and not a wolf, it would make more sense.
That said, London’s strength at delving into the animal world without personifying them to be more human than they are is still incredibly strong here. The animals are not personified but they are humanized. By that I mean, their personalities and instincts are clear and understandable. It is difficult to imagine anyone reading this book then proceeding to abuse an animal. They are truly remarkable creatures, London excels at demonstrating this.
Overall, this book is not as amazing as The Call of the Wild but it is well-worth the read for more time spent seeing animals through Jack London’s eyes. Recommended.
4 out of 5 stars
The Call of the Wild, review