Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 2 Chapter 8 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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Course Hero. (2017, May 11). White Fang Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 16, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/White-Fang/

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Course Hero. "White Fang Study Guide." May 11, 2017. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/White-Fang/.

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Course Hero, "White Fang Study Guide," May 11, 2017, accessed July 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/White-Fang/.

White Fang | Part 2, Chapter 8 : Born of the Wild (The Law of Meat) | Summary

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Summary

Every day, the cub ventures from his cave and explores the world around him. He learned a lot during his first excursion, and the lessons help him navigate the wild. He never forgets the fear of the hawk nor the pain from the ptarmigan mother's pecking beak. His desire for meat overwhelms him. He stalks a squirrel but doesn't have the courage to attack, which increases the respect he feels for his brave mother. She never fears the fight and always shares her meat. Famine returns, and the she-wolf "[runs] herself thin in the quest for meat." She rarely returns to the cave, and the cub must fend for himself. In his earnest search for food, he learns about the ways of his prey. The famine breaks when his mother returns to the cave with a lynx cub. She has eaten the rest of the litter. Shortly after, the lynx mother arrives, snarling "the most terrible snarl she ever gave." The lynx leaps at the she-wolf, and the two mothers tear at each other's flesh in a brutal battle. The she-wolf is badly injured. Over time, her wounds heal, and she continues to teach the cub how to hunt. He learns the law of meat: "EAT OR BE EATEN."

Analysis

In this short chapter, the cub learns the most important lesson of surviving in the wild: Eat or be eaten. As the narrator says, "There were two kinds of life—his own kind and the other kind." For the cub, animals in the wild are divided into two categories: ones he can eat, and ones that can eat him. To survive, he must learn everything he can about his prey, which he does through each excursion into the wild. His skills are tested for the first time during the famine, when his mother abandons him to fend for herself. She instinctually knows that if she dies, so does her bloodline, so she must prioritize her own survival. This also motivates her to eat the entire litter of lynx kittens, save one, before feeding her cub. She needs her strength to keep them both alive. Perhaps because she has been well-fed, the she-wolf successfully fends off the angry mother lynx. Had she been weak, the roles would have been reversed, and the lynx would have eaten the she-wolf and the cub.

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