White Fang: Novel Summary: III.3 The Outcast

The other dogs gradually join Lip-lip in persecuting White Fang; the pup becomes increasingly hostile to the point that not only the other animals but also the humans in the camp shun and hate him. In order to survive, White Fang becomes “more cruel, more ferocious, and more intelligent.”
In this brief chapter, London outlines the ways in which White Fangs “development was in the direction of power.” He learns to attack other dogs when they are alone, for instance, and to omit the “preliminaries” that normally accompany dogs fighting. The chapter explores the function of “nurture” as opposed to “nature,” to borrow the two opposing terms of theadvertisementfamiliar debate, in White Fangs character: “In order to face the constant danger of hurt and even of destruction [i.e., his nurture, or lack thereof, in camp], his predatory and protective faculties [i.e., elements of his nature] were unduly developed.” Interestingly, London maintains readers sympathies for White Fang by noting that neither the humans nor the other dogs “look after the causes of his conduct.” How often, in human society, do we dismiss others for their conduct without seeking to understand the possibly hidden root causes of their behavior?