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Free Study Guide for White Fang by Jack London - Free Book Notes

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Major Theme

Love Begets Love
The major theme of the novel is that love begets love. This classic tale is about a violent, morose, and suspicious wolf-dog who is ‘tamed’ by the love and kindness of his gentle master. By the end of the book, White Fang has submitted totally to his kind master and will doing anything to protect him and his family. In the same vein, London shows that hate begets hate, as proven by White Fang’s early experiences with his cruel masters and by the case of Jim Hall.

Minor Theme

Survival of the Fittest
The minor, but equally important, theme of the novel is the Darwinian theory of “survival of the fittest” in a cruel, ruthless, and wild world. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a British naturalist who contributed to the theory of evolution. In White Fang and other works, London makes references to the concept of natural selection by which only the strongest members of a species will survive. White Fang, despite the many external factors that conspire against him, is an example of an excellent physical specimen who can survive in his harsh environment. Had he not been able to protect himself in the wild, he would never have experienced the love of his kind master.


The main mood of the novel is cold and frightening. London creates a tale of horror in an unexplored land, pointing out the mysteries of the wild and the fear of the unknown. In the beginning, the Northland Wild is portrayed as a threat to any form of life. Later, the deep, dark woods seem to hold all kinds of terrors, which intimidate the weak-hearted. Overall, the mood is fearful, combined with a sense of bitter cynicism and suspicion on the part of White Fang. The violence perpetrated upon him is as chilling as his rages are frightening. This bleak mood is in sharp contrast to the domesticate happiness that White Fang feels at the end of the novel with his new, kind master, Weedon Scott.


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