White Fang

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White Fang Part 5, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
White Fang gradually adapts to life at the Scott house, learning to respect Scott's family, instead of attacking them. The other dogs, like Dick, learn to tolerate White Fang's presence, but Collie still snarls at this wild creature with distrust. "The cuff" of Scott's hand, and the call of his voice trains and teaches White Fang to adapt to domestic life.
While the domestic dogs tolerate White Fang's wild presence, Scott trains White Fang to adapt to the domestic world. Scott's "hand" alludes to his use of punishment to train White Fang—yet that punishment is mild compared to the strike of the club. Scott's call represents his use of his voice to instruct White Fang in man's ways.
Themes
Domestic Yearnings v. Natural Instinct Theme Icon
Nature v. Nurture Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon
White Fang quickly learns that the laws of hunting and foraging in the Southland are different from those of the Northland. Used to hunting wild things, he follows his natural instinct to kill and eat when he encounters a stray chicken. Later that day, a stable groom catches White Fang eating another chicken. He whips him, but White Fang attacks the groom. Collie intervenes before White Fang can kill the groom. Scott concludes that he can't teach White Fang to leave chickens alone until he "[catches] him in the act."
White Fang's natural instinct to hunt runs counter to the Southland's laws, which forbid the killing of domestic animals. The groom punishes White Fang for this offense, but White Fang fights back because the wild has trained him to fight for his meat and for his life. Collie's intervention reinforces the domestic law. Scott realizes that he can only train White Fang by doing so in direct response to the unwanted act.
Themes
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Domestic Yearnings v. Natural Instinct Theme Icon
Nature v. Nurture Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon
Two nights later, White Fang raids the chicken house, killing fifty chickens. The next morning, Scott finds the carcasses laid out on his front stoop. White Fang takes pride in his kill, showing no "shame nor guilt" for killing the chickens. But Scott scolds him with "godlike wrath," holding White Fang's nose down to the chickens, while speaking harshly to him and cuffing him "soundly."
White Fang's instinct to hunt makes him kill the chickens, but his devotion to his master makes him lay those chickens at Scott's door. His wild and domestic instincts are both still at play in him, and he thinks he is doing a good thing. Scott responds directly and firmly, using both words and physical punishment to train White Fang.
Themes
Domestic Yearnings v. Natural Instinct Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon
From this punishment, White Fang learns to stay away from chickens, but Judge Scott holds that "you can never cure a chicken-killer." To prove his father wrong, Scott locks White Fang up in the chicken coop and wagers his father that for every chicken White Fang kills, he will give him a dollar gold coin. For every ten minutes that White Fang spends in the yard without harming a chicken, Judge Scott will have to say, "White Fang, you are smarter than I thought."
Judge Scott does not believe that the wild can be trained out of an animal. Scott's bet signals that he believes that White Fang's devotion to him will overcome White Fang's natural instinct to hunt. The aspect of the bet that dictates what Judge Scott will have to say if he loses connects the idea of being trained with intelligence..
Themes
Domestic Yearnings v. Natural Instinct Theme Icon
Nature v. Nurture Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon
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White Fang spends hours in the chicken yard, but doesn't touch a chicken. Scott wins the wager, so Judge Scott solemnly says to White Fang, sixteen times, "White Fang, you are smarter than I thought."
Scott's training and mastery over White Fang teaches him to withstand the chicken coop's temptations. The Judge's praise highlights White Fang's adaptability and intelligence.
Themes
Nature v. Nurture Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon
Man's "multiplicity of laws" confuses White Fang, but he steadily learns man's ways. He learns that he can hunt jackrabbits, but not chickens. He learns not to attack children, who throw stones at him, because Scott will defend him. And finally, he learns to fight at his master's command. One day the men at the saloon sic their dogs on White Fang. Scott gives White Fang his blessing to attack the dogs. White Fang kills all three. From then on, no man or dog messes with the "Fighting Wolf."
While the laws of the wild are black and white—"eat, or be eaten"—the laws of man are nuanced and varied. He must learn, ultimately, not to follow his instincts and to trust in his master—to trust that his master will protect him and allow him, when it is appropriate, to protect himself. White Fang is once again called a wolf, but this time as a kind of nickname. He still has his strength and ferocity, but unleashes it only at the order of Scott.
Themes
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Domestic Yearnings v. Natural Instinct Theme Icon
Nature v. Nurture Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon