Henry and Bill continue their journey across the Wild, the howling of wolves always pursuing them. In camp at night, Bill manages to attack the wolf that is approaching their dogs; however, Bill says the wolf looks like a dog. Despite his “whack” at the interloper, another dog is gone when morning breaks. When the team camps the next night, Bill ties the dogs together with sticks and leather thongs to prevent them from straying. As they watch their dog named “One Ear” straining at this leash in the direction of the prowling strange animal who is daring to approach their campfire, they realize the unwanted visitor must be a female, and not altogether wild, at that: “That wolfs a dog, an its eaten fish manys the time from the hand of man.” The next morning, yet another dog has been lost: One Ear must have chewed Spanker loose, being unable to free himself. Bill resolves to tie the dogs out of each others reach the next night.
The journey continues. Bill notices the wolf pack keeping up with them-not close during the day, but never far away, either: “Theyre scattered an rangin along wide, keepin up with us an lookin for game at the same time. You see, theyre sure of us”-meaning, the wolves think the humans fate is sealed. Later, Henry and Bill encounter the she-wolf firsthand as she trails the sled. Bill tries to shoot the she-wolf, but the animal escapes. Bill resolves to shoot the she-wolf later, but Henry warns him that, the she-wolfs hunger clearly as great as it is, “once [the wolves] start in, theyll sure get you.”
This chapter further develops the fragility and vulnerability of life. Bill and Henry are at great risk, of course, as are their dogs. On the other hand, the she-wolf and her pack areadvertisementvulnerable as well, as all life must eat. London introduces a new note into his development of this theme in Bill and Henrys conversation at the end of the chapter. Henry tells Bill, “A mans half licked when he says he is.” In other words, life is not defeated until it acknowledges that it is. Readers will see that this lesson holds true not only for people but also for animals. Throughout the novel, White Fang and other wolves will demonstrate tremendous strength, persistence, and tenacity, refusing in a variety of ways to admit they have been “licked.”