Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 3 Chapter 14 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 3, Chapter 14 : The Gods of the Wild (The Famine) | Summary

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Summary

Now a year old, White Fang embodies the beautiful stature of a grand wolf. White Fang realizes his superiority in the pack, particularly as those who tormented him as a cub now look haggard and grizzled. One such dog, Baseek, makes the mistake of challenging White Fang for his food. White Fang attacks and nearly kills him. Another sign of White Fang's maturity is his changed relationship with Kiche. When summer arrives, Kiche returns to camp with her owner, Three Eagles, and her new pack of cubs. White Fang rushes to his mother, but she no longer recognizes him and snarls to protect her cubs. When he sniffs one of the cubs, Kiche attacks. White Fang realizes he must move on: "She was without value to him ... Her meaning was forgotten. There was no place for her in his scheme of things, as there was no place for him in hers."

When White Fang is three years old, the famine returns. The hunters leave camp day after day in search of food but find nothing. People and animals begin to die. The people begin eating the dogs, and the starving dogs turn against each other to kill and eat their own pack. During this time, White Fang breaks away and returns to the wild. He relearns how to hunt and how to steal trapped animals from snares. He returns to the cave of his youth, where he once again encounters Kiche. He ignores her and seeks shelter in the old lynx lair. He hunts fantastically, easily surviving away from the pack. Later, he encounters Lip-lip in the woods and kills him with ease. By summer, when the famine ends, White Fang finds his way back to camp and eagerly awaits Gray Beaver's return.

Analysis

Like his mother before him, White Fang leaves the Indian tribe behind when the famine returns. Interestingly, he returns to the cave of his childhood, giving readers a stark perspective of how much he has changed. He has no interest in returning home or in rekindling a relationship with his mother because "he had outgrown [her]." This acknowledgment signals to readers that White Fang has completely separated himself from his past. He neither relies on nor is allegiant to anyone. He is officially a lone wolf.

Despite being hand-fed for years, never having to hunt for a meal, White Fang's wolfish instincts are still strong: "Always, when hardest pressed for food, he found something to kill." White Fang's strength—despite unyielding famine—reminds readers of his superiority. He truly is the fittest of his kind. To reinforce the theme of survival of the fittest, London describes the desperate dogs fighting and eating each other before White Fang returns to the wild: "Weakened by hunger, they fell upon and devoured one another. Only the strong survived." Before returning to camp, White Fang seeks out and kills Lip-lip. He is finally big enough and strong enough to exert power over his tormentor, and killing Lip-lip signals White Fang's final step toward maturity. No longer a cub to be bullied, White Fang emerges as the dominant dog in the pack.

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