Among the she-wolf's litter, the gray cub (White Fang), shows himself to be the strongest and fiercest of the pups. With his eyes not yet opened, he senses and smells the world around him, crawling towards the light at the entrance of the cave.
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.
The she-wolf's rough rebukes signal that the yearning for life is natural, but also can be painful and dangerous. The she-wolf protects him by making him understand pain.
Yet, the gray cub's fascination with the light at the edge of the cave increases everyday. He perceives it as a wall of light. The wall perplexes him because, unlike the others wall of the cave, his father can move through the wall, in and out of the lair.
White Fang's interest in the wall of light represents his fascination with life itself. His observations of his father's comings and goings support his growth and development into a survivor.
Famine strikes the she-wolf's lair. One Eye desperately hunts for meat, but all the cubs, save the gray cub, die of hunger.
The deaths of White Fang's siblings signal that life in the wild is under constant threat. White Fang's lone survival shows that death is the norm, while survival is the exception. It also signals White Fang's own inherent strength.
One Eye no longer returns to the cave, so the she-wolf ventures out of the cave to investigate. She finds his remains on the trail, as well as signs of a struggle with the lynx. One Eye dies because he rashly attacks the lynx on his own. Her wrath is merciless because she has a "litter of hungry kittens at her back."
One Eye's death at the hands of the mother lynx stresses the dangerous nature of life in the wild and the violent nature of parenthood. Both One Eye and the lynx are willing to commit violence for the sake and survival of their offspring.