White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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Course Hero. "White Fang Study Guide." May 11, 2017. Accessed May 25, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/White-Fang/.

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Course Hero, "White Fang Study Guide," May 11, 2017, accessed May 25, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/White-Fang/.

White Fang | Part 2, Chapter 4 : Born of the Wild (The Battle of the Fangs) | Summary

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Summary

The she-wolf is the first to hear the cries of the incoming men. Although the pack hates to forego the meal they've been stalking, they know they must flee. The she-wolf runs away alongside one of the pack leaders, a grizzled, old wolf with one eye. Other male wolves try to run alongside her, but she bares her teeth and occasionally lashes out at them. A young male vies for the she-wolf's attention, continuing to pursue her despite her deflections. The pack runs constantly throughout the day and night, searching for meat. They manage to kill an 800-pound moose, which satisfies them for a while, and they all rest after feasting. The pack separates, with three males each competing to mate with the she-wolf. One Eye and another male work together to dispatch the eager, young male. Watching the fight, the she-wolf "sat smiling in the snow." When the second male turns his attention away from the she-wolf for the slightest moment, One Eye attacks, killing him. He and the she-wolf mate. They remain together in the following days, mating and hunting for food. Before long, the she-wolf begins searching for a place to give birth. Food is once again becoming scarce, but they luckily happen upon a line of rabbits in snares, which they greedily feast on.

Analysis

The mating ritual, which involves a group of male wolves battling to mate with the only female, strengthens the theme of survival of the fittest. In nature, the strongest animal survives, ensuring strong genes are passed down through the generations. By characterizing One Eye as old and grizzled, however, London sends the message that youth and brute strength are not necessarily the most important characteristics for survival. In the wild, one must also be clever. In the end, the she-wolf chooses experience over youth. However, One Eye also exhibits great strength, as seen in his ability to run alongside the younger wolves for days on end without food. Throughout the fight, London personifies the animal characters, giving them human emotions and behaviors: the she-wolf "smiling in the snow," for example. Some critics chastised London for this, claiming it undermined the otherwise strong narration. Some personification may be necessary to ensure readers care about the characters, but in general, instinct, not emotion, motivates the wolves' behavior.

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