Major Themes Of White Fang


Idea of Darwinism:

Jack London was a Darwinist, so he believed in the the theory of evolution. This belief is brought out through the action of White Fang. "The process of "natural selection" means that only the strongest, brightest, and most adaptable elements of a spfox_hunting_rabbit.jpgecies will survive."[1] The beginning of the book shows the theme very vividly. The men carrying the body are losing dogs and eventually one of the men, because the wolves are stronger and brighter than both the men and sled-dogs.[2] The style in which the book was written was Naturalist. "[T]he technique of the naturalist involves viewing life with scientific objectivity."[3]
White Fang, the wolf-dog, begins his growth as a wild wolf, but through his personal evolutionary process he 'learns' to rely on man for survival, even though he is mistreated. White Fang learns early that the law of natural selection is in existence, and that if he fails to be the strongest and the most adaptable he will eventually lose out through death.
White Fang learns the importance of adapting because of the new masters he has throughout his life. He adapts early on to have the necessity for the assistance of humans in his life. It is emphasized that the main instinct of life in all living creatures is that of remaining alive. White Fang deals with this instinct by becoming the strongest, the brightest, the most deadly, and the most feared. All White Fang knows is discipline through beatings for the majority of his life. To become the most feared he must prove that he can kill anyone that comes in his way. When White Fang is wronged all he knows how to do for punishment is killing.

Dealing with Adversity:

White Fang deals with adversity through the world that he lives in as well as the majority of the men he comes in contact with. He faces all of these situations as though they are necessary for him to go through so that he can live. In order to stay alive White Fang learns the importance of adapting, dealing with, and accepting the situations that he is put into. When he receives beatings from his masters he is nonresistant because he has learned the consequences of his actions. "He belonged to them as all dogs belonged to them, His actions were theirs to command. His body was theirs to maul, to stamp upon, to tolerate. Such was the lesson that was quickly borne in upon him."[4] "Ironically, [White Fang] demonstrates power through submission."[5] White Fang has the power because his will to live is too strong that he cannot resist Beauty Smith or the other 'gods' anymore. White Fang teaches that when faced with a horrible situation, sometimes the best tactic is simply to submit, that is, as long as they are your superiors in intelligence and strength.

Power of Love:

At the end of the novel White Fang is 'force-bought' by a man named Weedon Scott. Weedon is the first man to show White Fang love. The process of adaption for White Fang is harder this time than any time previous. It is hard because he has learned that you cannot trust the 'gods,' and that they will beat you, sometimes White_Fang.jpgeven for no reason (in the case of Beauty Smith). "The "redemption" that White Fang undergoes at Weedon Scott's instigation suggests that the greatest power in life is the power of love."[6] Shortly after Weedon 'purchases' White Fang from Beauty Smith White Fang learns the power of a love-master. The bond that Weedon makes with White Fang through love is exponentially stronger than the bond he had with his other masters. White Fang was obedient to them, yes, but when Weedon left without much notice, White Fang was distraught and would not eat or work; he became very ill, until Weedon came back. The loyalty of White Fang to Weedon Scott was surprising to anyone that came in contact with it. Even the possessions of the 'love-master' were under the ruthless protection of White Fang. It is never stated specifically, but through the action you can infer that the greatest power on earth is that of love for another.

Realism of White Fang

Because of the way that Jack London wrote White Fang it was bound to be realistic. Jack London is a naturalist writer, which means that his writing is intended to look at life and present life in a way that scientists would look at life. London does this by occasionally interjecting a few sentences emphasizing the set fate of White Fang. "Had he not been hungry himself, White Fang might have gone with him and eventually found his way into the pack amongst his wild brethren. As it was, he ran the young wolf down and killed and ate him."[7] This quote shows the way that White Fang's life is planned out for him even before he was put into Grey_Wolf.jpgsituations. There are moments that could change his fate, but it can be inferred that fate will win in the end.
Another reason that Jack London's writing, specifically White Fang, is that he actually lived in the Klondike, where White Fang is set in. London learned the ways of the gold rush and the use of sled dogs. Everything he wrote about, he had experienced first hand to some extent. London understood the workings of men as well as the scientific view of dogs and wolves so he implemented his view of the world into his writing.
Although fiction, White Fang is a realistic story of life in the Klondike.

What Can Be Learned From White Fang?

On the shallowest of surfaces White Fang is a book about the life of a wolf-dog. Therefore it gives us as human beings a little insight to the way that animals, specifically wolves and dogs, think. This, however, is not what Jack London intended to really portray in writing this novel. London thought much deeper, and simply used an unsual protagonist to convey his outlook on life.
The deeper meaning of White Fang tells the story of a character who runs into adversity, but stays positive about his ways and grows from his experiences rather than lets them tear him down. Jack London uses the idea of Darwinism and Naturalism, overcomeing adversity, and the power of love to achieve his ultimate objective of establishing a doctrine teaching of how to live life to the fullest.
Jack London wants the world to become a better place. He describes vivid examples the injustice that is found in society, and the natural reactions that people have to those injustices. He illustrates these examples though bad and good examples. White Fang is the good example for dealing with situations, as well as adapting yourself to environments. Grey Beaver and Beauty Smith are the two big examples of the ferocious, unforgiving leaders in society; using bad examples helps people evaluate their own lives from a question of am I doing something wrong, rather than am I doing what I am supposed to be doing. Finally the perfect, and forgiving master, Weedon Scott, is the personification of the love and patience everyone should have if they want to be a part in a successful society.
Jack London, and other authors, do not write simply for entertainment, they write because they have something to say about human nature and society that they feel they can best express through their writing. From this "must-write" attitude we recieve a book such as White Fang.
  1. ^ "White Fang." - Term Papers//. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://www.oppapers.com/essays/White-Fang/35261?topic>.
  2. ^ "Benefits of Purchase." Jack London White Fang Essays. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=96498>.
  3. ^ "White Fang By Jack London Critical Essays Influences of White Fang." White Fang: Critical Essays: Influences of White Fang. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/White-Fang-Critical-Essays-Influences-of-White-Fang.id-49,pageNum-56.html>.
  4. ^ London, Jack. White Fang. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  5. ^ "White Fang: Theme Analysis." Study Guide. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <http://www.novelguide.com/WhiteFang/themeanalysis.html>.
  6. ^ "White Fang: Theme Analysis." Study Guide. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <http://www.novelguide.com/WhiteFang/themeanalysis.html>.
  7. ^ London, Jack. White Fang. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.