White Fang

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Mating and Parenthood Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
The Struggle for Survival Theme Icon
Domestic Yearnings v. Natural Instinct Theme Icon
Nature v. Nurture Theme Icon
Mastery Theme Icon
Domestication Theme Icon
Mating and Parenthood Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in White Fang, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Mating and Parenthood Theme Icon

Parenthood begins and ends White Fang. The she-wolf, Kiche, and One Eye mate to become the parents of White Fang, while White Fang becomes a father in his own right when he has a litter of pups with Collie. Pups signal birth and new life, but mating and parenthood in White Fang are also closely associated with ferocity and violence. One Eye kills his rivals to mate with Kiche, while Kiche, out of an inborn distrust of the father of her pups, snarls at One Eye to protect her pups. She later attacks White Fang to defend her new litter. Meanwhile, One Eye must hunt and kill game to feed his family, but meets a violent end at the paws of the lynx, who feeds on him in order to defend her own kittens. Kiche makes a similarly violent sacrifice for the sake of her pups. She kills the lynx's kittens to feed White Fang. This act comes with a violent consequence. The lynx attacks White Fang and his mother. They, in turn, kill the mother lynx, highlighting that the price of new life can come at a violent cost to the parent and child, alike. But such violent parenthood is justified in London's Northland, because it is used to defend the next generation's survival.

Parenthood in the domesticated world of California is different. Collie snarls at White Fang after she gives birth to pups just as Kiche does after White Fang is born, but White Fang proves such fears of his wildness unwarranted when he plays with and nuzzles with his pups. Parenthood in California centers around love rather than survival. In having pups, White Fang cements his lineage in the domesticated world. In treating his pups with love, he ensures that his own pups won't experience the kind of cruelty and alienation from other dogs that made him wild. White Fang's loving actions begin the process of passing down the tradition of domesticity to his pups.

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Mating and Parenthood Quotes in White Fang

Below you will find the important quotes in White Fang related to the theme of Mating and Parenthood.
Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

In [the she-wolf's] instinct, which was the experience of all the mothers of wolves, there lurked a memory of fathers that had eaten their newborn progeny. It manifested itself as a fear strong within her, that made her prevent One Eye from more closely inspecting the cubs he had fathered.

Related Characters: Kiche, the she-wolf, One Eye
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the importance of instinct is clear. The she-wolf has mothered a brood of pups with One Eye. One Eye, the she-wolf senses (due to thousands of years of instinct that extend far beyond her own personal experience, and into a kind of "collective memory"), may be thinking about eating his own children for food. She then defends her pups from their own father, perhaps saving their lives.

London doesn't pass moral judgment on anything that happens in the passage--he takes a harsh, Darwinian view of survival, recognizing that the she-wolf's actions are "good" insofar as they ensure a new generation of wolves.

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