White Fang

White Fang

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Fire Symbol Icon
White Fang is impressed by man's ability to make fire. As a man-made source of light and warmth, it represents man's "mastery over matter," both live and lifeless things. As such, as it stands a symbol of man's god-like power and his lordship over living things, including canines, like White Fang.

Fire Quotes in White Fang

The White Fang quotes below all refer to the symbol of Fire. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of White Fang published in 1991.
Part 3, Chapter 2 Quotes

There was something calling to him [White Fang] out there in the open. His mother heard it, too. But she heard also that other and louder call, the call of the fire and of man—the call which it has been given alone of all animals to the wolf to answer.

Related Characters: White Fang, Kiche, the she-wolf
Related Symbols: Fire, The Call
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we see White Fang torn between the two halves of his nature: his wild, independent half, and his subservient, domestic half. White Fang could easily run away from his human owners and live in the wild for the rest of his life. Or he could stay behind and live with his masters. In the end, he and his mother choose to live with humans, perhaps because they're given warmth and food there, and perhaps because they've had loyalty beaten into them. London presents this choice as the conflict of two different "calls": the "call of the wild" (the title of London's other most famous novel) and the "call of man."

The passage shows a kind of "social contract" in the animals' lives: they have a free choice between wildness and civilization. In the end, they choose civilization perhaps because it's just better; their quality of life is simply higher. White Fang sacrifices some of his freedom (i.e., he has an owner), but in return he gets a warm fire and plenty of food. And yet there's still a question of whether or not White Fang's choice is truly free--he's loyal to his masters, but perhaps that's because he's been hurt so many times.


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Fire Symbol Timeline in White Fang

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fire appears in White Fang. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
...and pulls the sled along with the two remaining dogs. He makes camp, lighting a fire to keep the hungry wolves at bay. He doses off, but awakens to see the... (full context)
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Real wolf cries awaken him. The wolves are upon him. Henry builds a circle of fire around himself to fend them off. As the fire dies and his stamina wanes, he... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
White Fang watches Gray Beaver make fire for the first time. Amazed, White Fang approaches it, but burns his nose and tongue... (full context)