Book Review: White Fang

Today’s review is one of my most favorite stories when I was in elementary school. The book ‘White Fang‘ is written by Jack London.

I do not know about the rest of you readers, but I remember when I first saw the movie and heard the story. It was one of the few stories that touched me deeply and there a few things about the book that I had noticed that made it different from other animal books I’ve read, but we’ll get onto that later.

The story of White Fang revolves around the main character with the same name. He is ¼ dog and ¾ wolf but is born wild due to the conditions he was born into. It tells of the trials he goes through to survive, all the while becoming a fiercely independent and proud animal. We see how he goes from trusting humans to being abused by them, therefore losing his trust. However, things change for him when he meets Weedon Scott, a gold prospector who shows White Fang great kindness. Through Weedon’s actions, White Fang comes to trust humans somewhat and has a fierce, undying loyalty to Weedon. He even saves Weedon and protects Weedon’s family from a criminal seeking revenge, but nearly gets himself killed in the process. However, he pulls through by grasping that slim chance of him ever surviving his grave injuries. The story has an heart-warming ending where he first meets his pups much to the mother’s displeasure.

This is one of my most favorite classics simply because of the way it was written. It was beautifully written and detailed in an animal’s struggle for survival. It is written in the animal’s point of view but what makes it different from other animal books, is how Jack London doesn’t have animals talking to each other. In fact, he only writes what the animals think and feel. So only humans have the dialogue in the book. This in fact, helps builds the character of the wolf and makes the book all the more believable. I still found the book enjoyable and it shows the author trying to see through the eyes of the main character.

However, there are some interesting question you ask yourself regarding this book. We know that White Fang’s father was born wild and his mother was born in captivity. So the question is which world does White Fang truly belong; the wild or with humans?

For people who want to read a book about survival, morality, redemption and the world that animals live in and how it differs to the world of humans.

However, there is “nature fakers controversy” that had occurred shortly after this book was published, ‘a literary debate highlighting the conflict between science and sentiment in popular nature writing’. Jack London was targeted by people who said he was a ‘nature faker‘ stating his canine characters were merely ‘men in fur‘. Even US President Theodore Roosevelt in his speech against “sham naturalists” named Jack London specially as a “nature faker“.

I personally do not see the point of the controversy and think it’s silly. It doesn’t matter if the animal is humanized or not in the story. What matters is what is the message of the story, did the story make an impact on you, could you relate to the characters and how well-written was the story. This is also not an invitation for people to debate on whether Jack London is a nature faker or not.

Jack London’s book was beautifully written, you could relate to some of the characters and feel for them. It had an impact on me and gave me respect for wolves (one of my favorite animals) who are usually seen as pests. To me, it seemed more realistic to show what the animals are thinking and feel, rather than having them ‘speak’.  However, that is my opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Nevertheless, this book is one of many classics. I recommend this book to those who love tales of adventure, survival and trust. Or to those looking for a great example of an animal classic. To be honest, I love this book more than the hobbit or any other great book I’ve ever read.

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