White Fang

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Light Symbol Icon
As a pup, White Fang first encounters light at the entrance of the cave, where he is born. He perceives light as a permeable wall by which his father, One Eye, enters and exits the cave. Though White Fang is forbidden to cross the threshold, he crawls towards the light, growing like a flower under its rays. Light, in this way, symbolizes the inborn yearning of all creatures towards growth and development.

Light Quotes in White Fang

The White Fang quotes below all refer to the symbol of Light. 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 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

The life that was so swiftly expanding within [White Fang] urged him continually toward the wall of light.

Related Characters: White Fang
Related Symbols: Light
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage has often been interpreted as a reflection of White Fang's boundless capacity to grow, thrive, and savor life. White Fang is still a young pup, recently born, but he has a great excitement about the future. Here, he runs toward what he perceives as a "wall of light" (really, the entrance to his cave) in an effort to explore the unknown.

The passage helps us understand how London chooses a protagonist for his adventure story. White Fang is just another wolf, of course, but he's also a particularly curious, lively wolf--the embodiment of the life-force itself. As such, he's a perfect hero for a story of danger and adventure: we admire and respect his ambition and curiosity, and even identify with it.


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Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

But there were forces at work in the cub, the greatest of which was growth. Instinct and law demanded of him obedience. But growth demanded disobedience. His mother and fear impelled him to keep away from the white wall. Growth is life, and life is forever destined to make for life.

Related Characters: White Fang
Related Symbols: Light
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

Life, at its most elemental, is a struggle between desire and fear, growth and self-control. White Fang is an interesting character in the novel because, as a young wolf, he feels a boundless sense of excitement--a desire to explore the big, unknowable universe. And yet White Fang's mother makes sure that he also exercises some caution: the fact is, the world is a dangerous place, and White Fang will die if he tries to explore it too recklessly before he's ready.

The passage is important, then, because it establishes the two primary forces at work in White Fang's life: fear and growth. Only when White Fang learns to respect both of these forces will grow into a "mature" wolf.

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Light Symbol Timeline in White Fang

The timeline below shows where the symbol Light appears in White Fang. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 3
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
...eyes not yet opened, he senses and smells the world around him, crawling towards the light at the entrance of the cave. (full context)
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Mating and Parenthood Theme Icon
The she-wolf rebukes the gray cub for crawling towards the light. From her sharp nudges and swift strokes, he feels pain and learns to avoid hurt. (full context)
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Yet, the gray cub's fascination with the light at the edge of the cave increases everyday. He perceives it as a wall of... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
...dissipates and "the rush of life" increases, causing him to crawl towards the wall of light. (full context)