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Free Essay: Symbols and Symbolism in White Fang

Symbolism in White Fang

“Classic” – a word misunderstood by many people around the world, mostly those of a younger generation. It is surprising how many people believe that the word “classic” means “old” or “boring”. This is just not the case. In actual fact, the label “classic” given to books means “of the highest quality,” or “of enduring interest and value.” Books with this label are the best there is. Every word is carefully thought out and made interesting for the reader. Symbolism, meaning and detail are all applied effectively to keep the book an on-going page-turner. Such a fine example of this is Jack London’s White Fang.

A very wonderful tool to an author is the use of symbols within a story. One of the more common symbols throughout short stories and novels ultimately refers to the bible and religious history. In most, if not all stories have the relationship between good and evil – heaven and hell. Whether implied or not by Jack London, White Fang is full of many interesting biblical symbols. The character Beauty Smith, for instance very simply put symbolizes Satan. This man, this creature so vile as to subdue yet another victim (White Fang) into his ever-growing underground slavery prison camps. The greed for money and profit is the only need for this “prison camp”; the dog-fighting gambling is their prison cell. A comparison between the bulldog Cherokee and death itself can be made. Once death has you, there is no way of escaping. When Cherokee had White Fang gripped between his jaws, “There was no escaping that grip. It was like Fate itself, and was inexorable,” (London 139). Surely enough, God (Weedon Scott) came along and saved White Fang from the grips of evil. The cold-heartedness of evil can be overcome with the heat and light of good. The care and kindness of such like Weedon Scott for all existing creatures alike. Many other symbols deep within this novel lay rest assured, but it is hard to catch them all in such a detailed book as this.

With a closer inspection and a deep analysis of a novel, many small but nonetheless important meaningful things can be revealed. London has managed to intricately design a perfect novel full of deep meaning and symbols that can only be done in a short story. But a novel, with so many pages and pages of detailed work, it is so hard to keep up with all the things that lay undiscovered within.

Political Critique of Race Relations in Alice Walker’s Color Purple

The Color Purple as Political Critique of Race Relations

If the integrated family of Doris Baines and her adopted African grandson

exposes the missionary pattern of integration in Africa as one based on a

false kinship that in fact denies the legitimacy of kinship bonds across

racial lines, the relationship between Miss Sophia and her white charge,

Miss Eleanor Jane, serves an analogous function for the American South.

Sophia, of course, joins the mayor’s household as a maid under conditions

more overtly racist than Doris Baines’s adoption of her Akwee family:

Because she answers “hell no” (76) to Miss Millie’s request that she come to

work for her as a maid, Sophia is brutally beaten by the mayor and six

policeman and is then imprisoned. Forced to do the jail’s laundry and driven

to the brink of madness, Sophia finally becomes Miss Millie’s maid in order

to escape prison. Sophia’s violent confrontation with the white officers

obviously foregrounds issues of race and class, as even critics who find

these issues marginalized elsewhere in The Color Purple have noted. But it

is not only through Sophia’s dramatic public battles with white men that her

story dramatizes issues of race and class. Her domestic relationship with

Miss Eleanor Jane and the other members of the mayor’s family offers a more

finely nuanced and extended critique of racial integration, albeit one that

has often been overlooked.(11)

Like Doris Baines and her black grandson, Sophia and Miss Eleanor Jane

appear to have some genuine family feelings for one another. Since Sophia

“practically . . . raise[s]” (222) Miss Eleanor Jane and is the one

sympathetic person…

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…nold, 1993. 85-96.

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in Autobiography. Ed. James Olney. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. 99-111.

Shelton, Frank W. “Alienation and Integration in Alice Walker’s The Color

Purple.” CLA Journal 28 (1985): 382-92.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Explanation and Culture: Marginalia.”

Humanities and Society 2 (1974): 201-21.

Stade, George. “Womanist Fiction and Male Characters.” Partisan Review 52

(1985): 264-70.

Tate, Claudia. Domestic Allegories of Political Desire: The Black Heroine’s

Text at the Turn of the Century. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction.

New York: Oxford UP, 1985.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt, 1982.

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