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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The chapter paints in great detail the fight between Cherokee, a bulldog owned by Tim Keenan, and White Fang. Neither is accustomed to fighting the type of dog he now faces, but both are good fighters. The crowd is with Cherokee, and White Fang does give in a couple of times, only to be enraged by Smith, who laughs and points at him. During the battle, White Fang is very badly mauled. Weedon Scott, a well-respected mining expert, enters the ring and tries to save White Fang. Threatening to turn Smith in to the authorities, Scott buys White Fang for three hundred dollars. Scott's assistant, Matt, helps him to separate the two dogs. Scott wrenches the jaws of the bull dog open with a revolver while Matt lifts White Fang out of the ring.
Aptly titled 'The Clinging Death,' this chapter vividly and extensively describes the fight between Cherokee and White Fang. Both dogs are ferocious fighters, biting and ripping each other ruthlessly. As the crowd cheers Cherokee, White Fang desperately tries to get a good grip on him; but White Fang has finally met his match. He finds himself on the ground with Cherokee gripping his throat. Death seems certain.
The timely intervention of Weedon Scott saves White Fang. He convinces Beauty to sell his wolf-dog for three hundred dollars by threatening to call the authorities on him. White Fang's new owner rescues him by prying open Cherokee's jaws with a revolver and having his assistant, Matt, lift the badly injured White Fang from the ring.
A touch of optimism enters the plot, as the reader sees a humane master adopting White Fang; but White Fang will not be easy to tame. Both man and beast have a challenge in front of them.
Scott, White Fang's new owner, and Matt, the dog-musher, repeatedly try to gain the trust of the wolf-dog, who constantly snarls at them and bristles at the end of his stretched chain. Scott reluctantly considers killing the ferocious White Fang, but Matt wants to give him a chance. He correctly guesses that White Fang has been a sled dog and suggests that he could again be used in a dog team.
After two weeks White Fang is still as wild as ever, so Matt sets him free. Scott then throws him a piece of meat, which is grabbed by Major, one of Scott's other dogs. White Fang fatally wounds Major and bites Matt, who has tried to kick him. Scott tries to subdue the wolf-dog but is likewise bitten. Finally, Matt gets a gun to shoot White Fang. Just as he raises it to his shoulder, White Fang jumps out of the way to the side of the cabin. The men decide against killing White Fang.
It is a major ordeal for Scott and Matt to gain White Fang's trust after his recent experiences with humans. Beauty Smith has destroyed the wolf-dog's faith in the concept of man as his master. Scott is ready to give up on White Fang, but Matt encourages him to try once more, since White Fang has endured such unusually harsh experiences.
White Fang is completely suspicious when he is let loose. Because of his recent past, his instinct tells him there is impending danger; therefore, he is always alert and ready to attack. When Major, one of Scott's dogs, grabs a piece of meat intended for White Fang, he kills Major and bites Matt. Rather than being angry, Matt is rather proud of White Fang's aggression because he does not trust a dog who will not fight for his share of meat.
Although Scott talks kindly and soothingly to White Fang, he is also bitten. Now Matt has had enough and gets his rifle to shoot him; but White Fang's response, jumping out of the way and hiding behind the cabin, shows his intelligence. Both men agree that they ought to give White Fang another chance to develop further.