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White Fang: Novel Summary: III.6 The Famine

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Summary
Gray Beaver, Mit-sah, and the dogs return to their own village. White Fang has grown much-so much, in fact, that another dog, Baseek, wrongly assumes that he has intimidated White Fang into relinquishing claim to some meat. White Fang attacks him, and Baseek retreats. In midsummer, White Fang has a reunion with Kiche-although his mother does not recognize him, and treats him as a threat to her newborn litter.
When White Fang is three years old, the tribe with which he lives experiences famine. The hunger becomes so acute that the humans are forced to eat the weakest of the dogs. White Fang, in no danger of being eaten, retreats to the woods to fend for himself; he eats squirrels; he-reminiscent of his father's behavior (see II.1)-robs Gray Beaver's snare of a rabbit; he even eats a younger wolf. He meets Kiche again but this time is able to dismiss her without any sense of remembering her; he returns, ironically, to the lair of the lynx that he and Kiche had long ago fought. At last, White Fang even kills Lip-lip. He returns to the village and finds that the famine has abated, and he resumes his place in Gray Beaver's teepee. White Fang has survived.
Analysis
The conflicts in this chapter play their part in constituting White Fang's adult personality. The conflict between White Fang and Baseek gives the former "a greater faith in himself, and a greater pride." Also, the very different conflict between White Fang and Kiche reinforce in him the instinct, "the law of his kind that the males must not fight the

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females." These elements of White Fang's personality will serve him well throughout the rest of the novel, especially at the conclusion. Readers could consider what positive benefits a negative environment can have, on animals as well as on humans. Does London adopt a fatalistic attitude regarding the old "nature versus nurture" debate, or is his story suggesting something else? London seems to favor the common-sense view that both factors play a part in determining who we are when he uses the image of clay to describe White Fang's heredity.




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