Summary and Analysis
Part 5 (Chapters XXI-XXV)
This section of the novel presents the final changes that will take place within White Fang. Beginning with Part Two, when we saw White Fang as a young puppy, we have followed him from being a creature of the wild to becoming a part of civilization.
At the beginning of Part Five, White Fang senses that there is going to be a change. We find out that Weedon Scott is planning to return to his home in the Southland — Sierra Vista, California. Since Weedon Scott had left White Fang for a short time in Part Four, White Fang is intelligent enough now to know that his master is about to leave him again. Both Weedon Scott and Matt agree that it will be totally impossible to take a wild wolf back to live in the civilization of the Southland. They assume that he would be impossible to domesticate. Thus, when they leave the cabin, they lock the front door, and Matt goes out the back door, locking it. White Fang is left inside. As the two men head down to the boat, they hear White Fang howling, as though "his master was dead." He is "voicing utter woe. His cry [burst] upward in great heartbreaking rushes, dying down into quavering misery."
When Weedon Scott boards his homeward-bound ship, he finds White Fang sitting on the deck of the ship. Upon examining the animal, Matt and Weedon Scott decide that White Fang must have broken through the window in the cabin in order to follow his master. Realizing anew the degree of devotion which White Fang has for him, Scott decides to take the animal with him to the Southland despite the fact that he believes that the dog will never be able to become civilized, much less endure the hot climate.
When he arrives in San Francisco, White Fang feels as though he is experiencing some type of nightmare. He is bombarded by strange sounds, sounds of the city, and he is overwhelmed by the sight of all of the tall buildings and crowded streets. He is completely bewildered. He then has to endure being chained in the baggage car, his only consolation being that he can see and smell his master's luggage, which he will not allow anyone to approach.
Arriving at Sierra Vista, Scott embraces his mother, which causes White Fang to become a "snarling, raging demon." When White Fang is reprimanded by his master, he is finally satisfied that the woman is not going to hurt Scott. This, however, is only the beginning of many experiences which White Fang will have to undergo until he becomes domesticated. Fortunately, White Fang has sufficient intelligence to totally obey Weedon Scott's commands. When they arrive at the Scott estate, for example, they are greeted by a large sheepdog named Collie, who tries to attack White Fang immediately upon seeing him. White Fang instinctively knows, though, that this is a female of the species, so he turns his shoulder and shunts her attacks. The sheepdog, out of an ancient instinct, knows that this wolf is a natural enemy to her position as a protective sheepdog. Thus, Collie, the sheepdog, is introduced to us as the antagonist of White Fang, and her attack upon him will continue for some time. In fact, she will be the main bane of White Fang's existence for some time. This is ironic because the novel will end with White Fang going off into the forest with the sheepdog in order to mate with her and thus begin a new breed of dog.
Upon their arrival at the house, a dog named Dick runs to greet Weedon Scott, and White Fang instinctively feels that his master is being attacked, and again he is prepared to kill. And he would have done so, had not Collie hit White Fang from the side and broke the line of his attack, which allows Weedon Scott time enough to stop the fight. Weedon knows that White Fang could have easily killed Dick.
After his first introduction to the estate, White Fang has a series of things which he has to learn. For example, the dog Dick would like to be friends with White Fang, but for too long in his life, White Fang has been adverse to friendships of any kind. Compared to the things that White Fang has to learn at Sierra Vista, life in the Northland was a very simple affair. For example, in the Northland, all that White Fang had to learn was that Mit-sah and Kloo-kooch belonged to Gray Beaver. However, in Sierra Vista, relationships are infinitely more complicated. In addition to all of the various members of Weedon Scotts family — mother, father, wife, two sisters, and two children — there are numerous servants and workers. Furthermore, White Fang has always disliked children, but now he has to learn to like Scott's children, even though they pull his fur and hit him.
Moreover, White Fang cannot fight with any of the other dogs. The only domesticated animals in the North were dogs, and White Fang could attack them. But here in the Southland, White Fang cannot even kill the chickens — or any other domesticated animal. (After White Fang has, however, killed some chickens, Weedon Scott makes a bet with his father, that after Scott commands White Fang not to kill another chicken, that White Fang can be placed within the chicken coop itself, and that he will not touch another chicken. Weeden Scott is correct.)
Being intelligent, White Fang quickly learns that between him and all domesticated animals (cats, rabbits, turkeys, sheep, and goats), there must be no hostility. However, when he is out on the land with Weedon Scott, the creatures of the wild are lawful prey. Still, however, life is very complex in the valley for White Fang. For example, there are butcher shops, where fresh meat is hanging, but White Fang cannot eat it; children throw stones at him, and he can do nothing; and, in addition, tame dogs chase him, but he is not allowed to kill them.
One day, however, some men in a saloon urge their dogs to attack White Fang, and Weedon Scott tells White Fang to "eat 'em up." White Fang immediately kills two of the dogs, and another tries to escape, but White Fang chases it across a field and kills it. After that, the men of the town keep their dogs away from White Fang.
As the months go by, White Fang comes to enjoy the prosperous and indulgent life that he leads, but he remains at a distance from the other animals — except for the "one trial in his life" — Collie. She never gives White Fang a moment of peace. Otherwise, things go well.
When Weedon Scott goes for long horseback rides, sometimes up to fifty miles a day, White Fang enjoys accompanying his master. He never tires, even after the longest trips. Then one day, a rabbit frightens Weedon Scott's horse, causing the horse to stumble, and this accident causes Weedon to break a leg. Scott then tells White Fang to go home and get help. White Fang is very reluctant to leave his master, and it is with great difficulty that Scott finally convinces the dog to leave him and go to the ranch for help. Once at the ranch, however, White Fang's problems have just begun. He cannot communicate with the other members of the Scott family. And the more he tries, the more they are convinced that White Fang has gone berserk. For only the second time in his life, in desperation, White Fang makes himself bark. But, by doing so, he finally makes himself understood, and Weedon is soon rescued. After this, White Fang is more respected by the other members of the Scott family.
As the days continue, White Fang gradually realizes that Collie's bites are becoming more playful and flirtatious. When she "nipped his ear," White Fang realizes that it is an invitation for him to follow her, in the same way that, long years ago, his mother followed old One Eye into the forest.
In the final chapter of the novel, White Fang performs a feat which causes him to be called the "Blessed Wolf." It seems that years ago, Judge Scott had sentenced a criminal, Jim Hall, to fifty years in prison. Even though this criminal, Jim Hall, had been guilty of two earlier offenses, he was innocent of this offense, and he had been framed by the police.
As a result, Jim Hall believes that Judge Scott is a part of a conspiracy. Thus, when Judge Scott sentences him to fifty years in prison, Hall threatens to get his revenge — eventually — on the Judge. Years pass and, meanwhile, Jim Hall becomes a thoroughly hardened criminal, mainly because of his brutal treatment while in prison. But while he is in solitary confinement, he manages to escape, killing three guards while doing so.
When the Scott family hears about Hall's escape, everyone except the Judge is frightened. The Judge's wife, Alice, secretly goes downstairs every night and lets White Fang in so that he can sleep in the hallway. But since White Fang is not allowed in the house (by the Judge), Judge Scott's wife has to get up early each morning and let White Fang out. Consequently, on the night that Jim Hall silently breaks into the Judge's home, White Fang is there, and just as the convict is ascending the stairs, White Fang attacks him and quickly kills him. White Fang, however, is seriously wounded himself during the combat, and Judge Scott wires San Francisco for the very best doctor who can be found — a Doctor Nichols. Any other dog would have died, but because White Fang is a wolf-dog, his constitution is different, and he survives.
After this episode, Alice Scott names White Fang the "Blessed Wolf," a name which he retains for the rest of his life. When at last the Scotts bring the Blessed Wolf home from the hospital, White Fang, in his weakened condition, is taken outside so that he can see the puppies which he has fathered. As the puppies come sprawling over him, "he lay with half-shut patient eyes drowsing in the sun."