Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 3 Chapter 10 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 3, Chapter 10 : The Gods of the Wild (The Bondage) | Summary



White Fang spends his day learning about man and the camp, likening men to gods. He reveres them not only for their abilities but also for his mother Kiche's loyalty to them. He also fears them, particularly for their power: "Behind any wish of theirs was power to enforce that wish, power that hurt." White Fang knows he no longer belongs to his mother or to nature; he belongs to man. He creeps to the edge of the woods daily, smelling the wild and wishing he could return to it. At the same time, he adjusts to camp life, learning which humans are greedy and which are generous, which are violent and which are kind, and which other dogs—notably Lip-lip—to avoid. Lip-lip perpetually antagonizes White Fang, bullying and attacking him: "The effect of all this was to rob White Fang of much of his puppyhood and to make him in his comportment older than his age." Because White Fang is smaller than Lip-lip, he must resort to cunning, luring Lip-lip toward his mother so she can defend him. While Lip-lip fights off Kiche's mauling, White Fang leaps in and joins the attack.

Gray Beaver keeps Kiche tied to a stick when she rejoins the camp, but when he finds her obedient again, he releases her, much to White Fang's delight. White Fang bounds toward the woods, but his mother doesn't follow. He realizes her obedience to man and that he must join her: "Stronger than the physical restraint of the stick was the clutch of the camp upon her ... the gods still gripped with their power and would not let her go." A short time later, Gray Beaver gives Kiche as payment to another Indian, Three Eagles, who takes her with him on his travels. White Fang desperately tries to follow, but Gray Beaver wrathfully catches and beats him back into submission. While White Fang lies listless and bloody, Lip-lip tries to finish him off, but Gray Beaver punts Lip-lip away: "This was the man-animal's justice." White Fang mourns pitifully for his mother but tries to find contentment in the camp.


Dogs, descendants of wolves, are cunning predators. The instinct to fight never leaves, regardless of domestication. When hunters like dogs and wolves no longer have to hunt to survive, their fighting instincts find other outlets. For Lip-lip, the outlet is bullying weaker dogs, like White Fang, still just a cub. The narrator repeatedly refers to White Fang as a lump of clay being shaped by his surroundings, and his relationship with Lip-lip is evidence of this. Smaller and weaker than Lip-lip, White Fang relies on his cunning and quickness to survive a fight: "He became cunning; he had idle time in which to devote himself to thoughts of trickery." Much like Kiche, who manipulates the sled dogs in Chapter 2, and One Eye, who bests the stronger, younger males to mate with Kiche in Chapter 4, White Fang uses his quick thinking to rise as "fittest" in the fight. Time and again, the novel gives examples of superiority through intelligence. Even man has risen to the top of the food chain through superior knowledge. While man may be physically weaker or slower than a wolf, he is still wolf's master because of his intelligence.

This section provides a turning point for White Fang and the first true trauma of his life: his separation from his mother. This marks the first step toward White Fang's independence. Without his mother, and under the constant bullying of Lip-lip and beatings from Gray Beaver, White Fang's nature begins to change. He becomes more doglike, certainly, but he also becomes cruel. White Fang wasn't born with a malicious spirit; he inherits it through this new environment.

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