In the spring, White Fang is a year old, physically full grown, and can hold his own against the camp's older dogs. An elderly hound, Baseek tries to intimidate White Fang into surrendering a prime piece of moose meat. White Fang almost relinquishes it, but defends his right to eat by attacking Baseek.
White Fang's defense of his meat highlights the struggle for survival. When faced with competition, he does not give away his meat, but fights for it. His prowess at fighting shows that he has becomes a fierce survivalist. That he does so against an older dog shows how he is growing, in stature and strength.
Later in the summer, White Fang encounters his mother, Kiche, tending to a new litter of pups. Not recognizing her son, she attacks him. White Fang realizes that he has no place in her world, so she loses meaning to him.
Kiche's motherhood is marked by violence—her desire to defend her pups is everything to her. In doing so, she severs ties with her son. White Fang now has no further connecting to any animal from his wild past.
As time goes on, White Fang's environment continues to mold his character, like a piece of clay. He is shaped into a savage creature. The other dogs learn to not quarrel with him, while Gray Beaver prizes White Fang's ferocity even more.
London uses simile and metaphor to describe White Fang's transformation. White Fang's character is like "clay" that is shaped and molded by its environment.
In the third year of White Fang's life, a famine strikes the Indian camp, so White Fang escapes to the forest, where he kills small animals and even a grown wolf with ease. In the forest, he encounters Kiche again, but only one of her pups remains alive.
Though belonging to man, White Fang escapes to the wild to survive. His great strength is now on full display. He could master the wild should he choose. The survival of only one of Kiche's pups emphasizes the struggle to survive against famine.
White Fang also encounters Lip-lip in the woods. While White Fang has thrived in the wild, Lip-lip has "eked out a miserable existence." Though not hungry, White Fang attacks his rival, killing him. A few days later, White Fang comes upon the Indian camp teeming with life. The famine has passed.
It is in White Fang's nature to kill and eat, but he does not kill Lip-lip because he has to. He does it because he wants to. White Fang is victorious over Lip-lip because he thrives in the wild, while the wilderness makes Lip-lip weak and vulnerable.