Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 1 Chapter 2 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 1, Chapter 2 : The Wild (The She-Wolf) | Summary



Bill and Henry travel the whole next day, once again making camp in the evening as the hungry wolves howl around them. They admit to feeling nervous and wishing the wolves would search for food elsewhere. As Henry cooks dinner, Bill suddenly cracks one of the wolves over the head with a club after it ventures too close to their dogs. They wonder whether the wolf is tame and whether it's the same wolf they accidentally fed the night before. The next morning, Bill shouts that another dog, Frog, has gone missing. Gloomily, Henry admits that Frog was their smartest and strongest dog. The next night, Henry ties the dogs to sticks so they can't wander off. Bill jokes that if another dog goes missing, he'll go without his morning coffee. At dinner, the men hear the dogs making strange noises. They investigate and find a female wolf, which they call a "she-wolf," prowling near the dogs. The she-wolf appears tame but wary of the men. "That wolf's a dog, an' it's eaten fish many's the time from the hand of man," Henry says.

The next morning, the men are shocked to find that another dog has gone missing. They assume one dog gnawed through another's leather tie because it would have been impossible to do alone. That, or the wolves simply ate the dog—Spanker—whole: "They ate 'm hide an' all." They decide the best plan is to tie the dogs out of reach of each other. They travel through the day, noticing that the she-wolf trails them: "Together they watched the strange animal that had pursued them for days and that had already accomplished the destruction of half their dog-team." She shows no fear of the dogs or the men, and the men begin to worry how long their team will be able to continue.


The suspense continues to mount as Henry and Bill question the she-wolf's behavior. Is she a wolf or a dog? Why don't the other dogs attack her when she comes close? Is the she-wolf tame or wild? Their questions emphasize the ideas of domestication and survival. The she-wolf embodies the ability to adapt to new circumstances to survive, whether it's becoming domestic to procure food or turning savage to hunt. The she-wolf also understands men and their behavior, does not show fear, and adapts her hunting skills to the situation. With Fatty and Frog, the she-wolf needed only to lure the dogs away from camp, but Spanker required sneaking into camp, chewing through his restraint, and luring him away without being caught. In successfully luring away three dogs, the she-wolf proves she is the "fittest." The men believe they are the masters of their dogs, but they are powerless to protect them against the wild wolf.

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