10 Great Books - White Fang, by Jack London
And out of this classification arose the law. The aim of life was meat. Life itself was meat. Life lived on life. There were the eaters and the eaten. The law was: EAT OR BE EATEN. He did not formulate the law in clear, set terms and moralise about it. He did not even think the law; he merely lived the law without thinking about it at all.
Allow me to preface this by making something clear: Jack London’s portrayal of Native Americans in general is problematic. I will not ignore it, and I will not justify it. I accept it as part of the work that I, as an elementary school kid, loved and absorbed. We can’t expect much from a white guy writing in the early 20th century, so let us take it for what it is.
All that said, Jack London was an author who shaped my taste in literature growing up. I’ve always had an affinity for dogs; that’s never been a secret. From Balto to Air Bud to my own dog Molly, I have loved dogs in any way, shape, or form they can be presented to me. In White Fang and The Call of the Wild, London’s two most famous works, I found dogs in written literature. And I loved it.
I doubt that the books would have the same effect on me today if I read them again. Therefore, I have no plans to reread them any time soon. But what London did so well was allow us to view the events of the story through the eyes of a dog. In The Call of the Wild, it is a domesticated dog turning into a beast of the wild. In White Fang, it is a beast of the wild turning into a domesticated dog, which I found more appealing. (Addendum: I very specifically remember liking White Fang better as a kid and knowing for sure that would be an unpopular opinion.)
So yes. London has his problems, and we take his work with a grain of salt. But as a young boy who just wanted to read about cool dogs, his work had an effect on me then that has lasted till now and probably will last until the end of my life, just like Balto, Air Bud, and every other canine-related thing, fictional or non-fictional, that Child Roger loved with every inch of his little heart.