Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 3 Chapter 13 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 3, Chapter 13 : The Gods of the Wild (The Covenant) | Summary

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Summary

Now eight months old, White Fang is old enough to join the sled team. Gray Beaver's son, Mit-sah, drives the young cubs as they all learn their new roles. Lip-lip is chosen to lead the pack in the hopes that jealousy among the team will make Lip-lip more subservient. The plan works, and the rest of the dogs turn on Lip-lip, attacking him with the same perpetual lashings he had once given White Fang. The abuse White Fang endured turned him away from the pack, and now that he's maturing, he feels no camaraderie with the other dogs. He continues to steal their food and brutally attack them when he feels threatened: "He was a monstrous tyrant. His mastery was rigid as steel. He oppressed the weak with a vengeance." White Fang remains removed from Gray Beaver as well, respecting the man's authority but avoiding him.

This relationship changes when White Fang explores a nearby village. He spots a boy chopping frozen moose meat into slabs, and he scavenges the frozen chips. White Fang "knew the law of forage ... He had done no wrong, broken no law," yet the angry boy grabs a club and starts beating White Fang away. Enraged, White Fang bites the boy and hurries back to camp. The boy's parents arrive, demanding punishment for White Fang, but Gray Beaver defends him. Later, the boy seeks out Mit-sah in the woods and attacks him. White Fang leaps to Mit-sah's defense. Gray Beaver rewards White Fang with a feast of meat and a prime seat by the fire. Over time, White Fang learns to protect Gray Beaver's family and possessions, which earns him great rewards: "His allegiance to man seemed somehow a law of his being greater than the love of liberty, of kind and kin."

Analysis

Normally, joining a sled team would be an exciting advancement for a dog; it means the dog is fully integrated into a pack with a role to serve. For White Fang, however, being on the sled team further isolates him because "he had never learned to play with them. He knew only how to fight." He feels no camaraderie with the other dogs, and Mit-sah stokes competition by favoring, or at least pretending to favor, Lip-lip by giving him extra meat. When there was no extra meat, Mit-sah pretended to give him more. By moving on to the sled team, White Fang secures his position as a dog, not a wolf. This role reminds readers of White Fang's breeding—he is one-fourth dog and three-fourths wolf—but when surrounded by domesticity, the genetic traits of a dog come through. He longs for companionship, like a dog, but maintains the quick thinking and cunning of a wolf. In some ways, he has the best of both worlds.

White Fang's role as a "member of the family" increases when he protects Mit-sah from the bully. Motivated by loyalty rather than love, White Fang protects Mit-sah as he would any of Gray Beaver's belongings. He feels no emotion toward Gray Beaver or his family beyond loyalty. He has a job to do, and he is given food and shelter in exchange. Humans, however, are more emotional creatures, and they reward White Fang as if he had acted out of love.

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