Chickens

(Retold by Anne Paden, From Jack London's White Fang)

Jack London's wonderful classic, White Fang, tells the story of an animal, half dog, half wolf, as he survives his life in the wild and then learns to live among men. There is one story in particular that has left a lasting impression on my heart.

White Fang was very fond of chickens and on one occasion raided a chicken roost and killed fifty hens. His master, Weeden Scott, whom White Fang saw as man-God and "loved with single heart," scolded him and then took him into the chicken yard. When White Fang saw his favorite food walking around right in front of him he obeyed his natural impulse and lunged for a chicken. He was immediately checked by his masters voice. They stayed in the chicken yard for quite a while and every time White Fang made a move toward a chicken his master's voice would stop him. In this way he learned what his master wanted- he had learned to ignore the chickens.

Weeden Scott's father argued that you "couldn't cure a chicken killer," but Weeden challenged him and they agreed to lock White Fang in with the chickens all afternoon.

Locked in the yard and there deserted by the master, White Fang lay down and went to sleep. Once he got up and walked over to the trough for a drink o water. The chickens he calmly ignored. So far as he was concerned they did not exist. At four o'clock he executed a running jump, gained the roof of the chicken house and leaped to the ground outside, whence he sauntered gravely to the house. He had learned the law.

Out of love and a desire to obey his master's will, White Fang overcame his natural, inborn desires. He may not have understood the reason but he chose to bend his will to his master's.

Animal stories have a way of breaking your heart and often reveal a profound truth. The simplicity and purity of White Fang's love and devotion to his master help me realize that my life will always be full of "chickens." What I have to settle is, whom will I serve?