Part 1, Chapter 1: The Trail of the Meat Notes from White Fang

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White Fang Part 1, Chapter 1: The Trail of the Meat

The novel begins with a description of the land around a frozen river, somewhere in the Northland. On the river, a group of dogs pull a sled carrying a coffin.

"On the sled, in the box, lay a third man whose toil was over, - a man whom the Wild had conquered and beaten down until he would never move nor struggle again. It is not the way of the Wild to like movement. Life is an offense to it, for life is movement; and the Wild aims always to destroy movement." Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 4

Topic Tracking: The Wild 1

Two men, Bill and Henry, drive the sled towards its destination. As the sun sets they hear a sound: faint at first and then stronger. It is howling. The two men realize that they are being chased by a pack of wolves. Food is so scarce that the wolves are hunting men. Bill and Henry pitch camp and build a fire. The wolves watch from just beyond the other side of the fire.

Bill remarks to Henry that, while feeding the dogs, he noticed that there were seven instead of six. He had brought six fish, and one dog, One Ear, did not get a fish. There are tracks in the snow where the seventh dog ran back to the wolf pack. They talk about the seventh dog, and about how lucky the rich man in the coffin is. As they talk, the wolves surround the camp, and their eyes can be seen in the darkness all around. Bill only has three cartridges left in his gun. He wishes they could be sitting in Fort McGurry playing cards. The men finally go to sleep, and as they sleep the wolves draw in closer around the camp. The dogs snarl at the wolves, finally waking Bill up. He gets up and puts more wood on the fire, and the wolves back up a little. He finally returns to Henry, waking him up to tell him that there are seven dogs again.

They go back to sleep. In the morning, Henry wakes up and gets Bill out of bed. Henry makes breakfast while Bill gets the sled ready. Bill realizes that instead of six dogs, now only five remain. He tells Henry that one of the dogs, Fatty, is missing. He ran away, and must have quickly been eaten by the wolf pack. Neither Bill nor Henry can understand why a dog would commit suicide like that, and they decide that Fatty must have been a fool, and maybe crazy.

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