White Fang


Summary and Analysis by Chapter

Themes are the central topics or messages that the author is trying to convey. It is important to keep in mind that London wrote White Fang as a companion piece to The Call of the Wild. He explored the contrast between domesticity and the wild in both books, and themes exploring those differences permeate both books.

Survival of the Fittest

One of the overriding themes in White Fang is the life-or-death struggle that man and animals face—not only in the wild, but also in civilization. The idea of the survival of the fittest is introduced well before White Fang is even conceived. Kiche uses her superior intelligence to help lure dogs away from the sled team, so that the wolves can kill them. Then, once the wolves break into smaller packs, One Eye kills the other two males that are vying for Kiche’s attention. This introduction helps highlight the nature of the struggle for survival in the wild.

Even as a young cub, White Fang is able to survive against overwhelming odds, while his littermates die as a result of the famine. He carries this survival ability forward into his life, defeating those animals that pose a threat to his existence. However, he also acknowledges that the gods are more able to survive than he is, and White Fang does not directly challenge men after being taught that they are physically superior to him. White Fang is able to kill most of his challengers, a fact that is exploited by Beauty Smith. Furthermore, when he encounters a challenger he cannot defeat, the bulldog Cherokee, the men surrounding him, including his master Beauty Smith, are willing to watch him die because he is not the strongest one in the group. While this provides the opportunity for Weedon Scott to rescue White Fang, he continues to demonstrate his superiority to other animals he encounters, killing a dog at Scott’s camp.

The ultimate challenge arises when White Fang is pitted against Jim Hall. Jim Hall, like White Fang, has spent a lifetime honing his survivalist skills. Both have been...

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Essays About White Fang