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White Fang: Novel Summary: III.2 The Bondage

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Summary
White Fang begins to "render his allegiance" to the man-gods, as has Kiche his mother. He realizes that men have power to enforce their wishes and so, gradually, he submits to them-even though he still hears the Wild calling. Kiche, whom Gray Beaver frees when he decides she is no longer likely to run away, hears the call of the wild also, but she hears as well "that other and louder call, the call of the fire and of man."
White Fang continues to struggle against Lip-lip; their repeated fights make White Fang's already-savage temperament even more so. This savagery finds fierce expression when Gray Beaver sells Kiche as payment of a debt. Gray Beaver administers two terrible beatings to White Fang when the pup tries to pursue his mother, the second prompted by White Fang's attempt to bite Gray Beaver. Lip-lip is able to attack White Fang upon his return to camp because the pup has been weakened by Gray Beaver's "manhandling" of him. White Fang resigns himself to living in bondage, yearning for Kiche's return.
Analysis
This chapter further develops the narrative's meditations on power. It begins, for instance, by strengthening analogy of man's relationship to beasts as gods' relationship to men by pointing out that, unlike human beings' faith in the divine, wolves and dogs' faith in men has never been shattered. It points out how White Fang learns how to exercise his own power when he "lure[s] Lip-lip into Kiche's avenging jaws." But it focuses most on men's ability to enforce their wishes through the power of sheer, brute force strength. White Fang yields to men because they are physically stronger than he, as the beating he receives from Gray Beaver graphically and decisively demonstrates.

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Further, Lip-lip's subsequent reprisal against him, stopped by Gray Beaver, teaches him that "the right to punish was something the gods reserved for themselves and denied to the lesser creatures under them." London thus establishes the link between power and hierarchy: the latter is entirely dependent upon the former. As the dogs establish a hierarchy among themselves based on the power to do harm (we will see evidence of this in III.5), so do human beings establish their superiority over "lesser creatures" on the same basis. Once again, London is highlighting the commonality between man and animal that underlies seeming disparity.




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