Literature Study GuidesWhite FangPart 4 Chapter 18 Summary

White Fang | Study Guide

Jack London

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White Fang | Part 4, Chapter 18 : The Superior Gods (The Clinging Death) | Summary



White Fang goes a long while without a fight because the betting men believe White Fang to be unbeatable. Then one day a man named Tim Keenan arrives with the first bulldog White Fang has ever seen. He doesn't understand why anyone would want him to fight such a short, squat dog. He takes a few nips of the dog, named Cherokee, and is surprised by the thinness of its skin. Cherokee barely registers the bites and continues to stalk determinedly after White Fang. The bulldog is clearly waiting for something, but White Fang doesn't understand what. Suddenly, the moment presents itself, and the squat dog clamps its strong jaws on White Fang's throat. Nothing White Fang does can loosen the dog's grip: "There was no escaping that grip. It was like Fate itself, and inexorable." At every opportunity, the bulldog inches his grip closer to White Fang's jugular. White Fang knows the fight is over. He has lost and is going to die, but before death comes, two angry men divert the chanting crowd. They shout for the fight to be broken up, but no one helps them. Together, they pry the bulldog off of White Fang and carry his limp body away from the arena. Furious, one of the men—Weedon Scott—throws money at Beauty Smith to buy White Fang. Beauty Smith refuses, but Weedon threatens and humiliates him before walking away with White Fang in his arms.


White Fang has finally met his match in Cherokee the bulldog. The bulldog doesn't fight White Fang out of hatred or bullying, as other dogs in the past have done, but he fights because of his training. His strength lies in his genetics, much like White Fang's. In this way, the dogs are equally matched. The fight proves unique because while most fights ended in a few bloody moments, this fight drags out as the dogs slowly wear each other down. There are no massive injuries or bites until Cherokee clamps onto White Fang's neck. Even then, the fight lingers as Cherokee bides his time, slowly inching his bite up White Fang's neck. The struggle to survive, therefore, is more acutely felt. White Fang's final thoughts parallel Henry's final thoughts in Chapter 3. Exhausted and worn down by his foe, Henry remarks on the intricate beauty of his hands by the fire. Similarly, as Cherokee hangs from his neck, "the basic life of [White Fang] dominated him again, and his intelligence fled before the will of his flesh to live." This scene also parallels Chapter 7, in which the weasel bites White Fang's neck. Now, instead of his mother saving him, Weedon Scott swoops in and saves White Fang from certain death.

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