White Fang: Novel Summary: V.5 The Sleeping Wolf

The chapter begins with a flashback: we learn about Jim Hall, a vicious prisoner who years before had been sentenced to serve five decades jail time by Judge Scott (Weedons father). In so doing, Judge Scott had unwittingly played a part in a police conspiracy against Hall. Now, Hall has escaped. He makes his way to Sierra Vista to take revenge on the judge who sent him to prison. He breaks into the house by night, only to meet with White Fang, who savagely attacks the dangerous intruder. White Fang kills Hall, but it very nearly costs the wolf-dog his own life. The family keeps an anxious vigil while White Fang struggles, one more time, to survive. But survive he does. He is given the name “Blessed Wolf” by Judge Scott when he revives. White Fang rises, goes to Collie, and meets her pups, the litter he has fathered. Content, he rests “with half-shut, patient eyes, drowsing in the sun.”
In some ways, this final chapter of White Fang could be construed as anti-climactic. Surely, readers have never before heard of Jim Hall; he makes an abrupt, artistically inelegant entrance into the plot at this point. And, just as surely, the arc of White Fangs character has been virtually all but finished at the close of the previous chapter, as life reasserts itself when White Fang and Collie go off into the woods to mate. The narrator has told us that “the wolf in [White Fang] merely slept” (V.4). And yet that phrase indicates that there is more of White Fangs story to be told. It subtly introduces the foundation for this chapter, which serves to illustrate that the wolf-i.e., the Wild, the savagery that was instilled into White Fang through the “nurture” of Gray Beaver and Beauty Smith-is still a part of and coexists with the tame dog he has become under the love of Weedon Scott. This final chapter, then, gives readers a chance to see the two dichotomous sides of White Fangs character fully reconciled, fully integrated. As White Fang remembers his experiences as he is on the verge of death, we readers take the journey with him again, marveling at how “nature” and “nurture” have combined to produce this fierce yet loving animal, this magnificent creature. Perhaps his “clay” could and should have been molded differently, but at this point we sense that White Fang is as he is content to be: surrounded by loving “gods” and, not fully asleep, but “drowsing” with eyes that are only “half-shut.” In other words, he is at peace, and this chapter gives us another chance to seeadvertisementthat peace for ourselves. It thus serves an important narrative and emotional function, and provides a fitting conclusion to the book. White Fangs “resurrection” (again, not Londons language, but consonant with the religious language has employed throughout the novel) leaves readers with a strong affirmation of the power of life: “White Fang had come straight from the Wild, where the weak perish early and shelter is vouchsafed to none. A constitution of iron and the vitality of the Wild were White Fangs inheritance, and he clung to life. with the tenacity of old.”