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White Fang, born a gray wolf cub, stands out from Kiche's litter in every way. He looks more like a wolf than his siblings and is clearly stronger and more intelligent. His mother recognizes his abilities and gives him special nurturing. As a result, he survives the famine that kills all of his siblings. It is like this wolf-dog is meant to be a leader. As a result, he becomes the central character and protagonist of Jack London's novel.
As he grows, White Fang clearly shows his superiority. He is strong, powerful, and intelligent. He quickly learns through natural instinct that only the fittest survive, so he sharpens his skills to make certain he is always alert and ready. He endures many ordeals in life because of his survival instinct. He also clearly establishes his superiority over other animals.
When White Fang is taken to live with the Indians, he learns that he must be responsible and obedient to survive in the human world. He quickly understands how to act in order to avoid the rod, and behaves accordingly. He learns that man is fair to him when he obeys. As a result, he accepts Gray Beaver as his master, calling him "god" and acknowledging his superiority. Although White Fang and Gray Beaver are faithful to one another, there is no expression of love, only respect.
Gray Beaver is tricked into selling White Fang to Beauty Smith, who wants to make a profit off the wolf-dog's skills in fighting. Already aggressive and powerful by nature, Beauty torments White Fang and beats him regularly. He then turns White Fang loose on other dogs and wild animals. The wolf-dog is always the victor, sometimes fighting three dogs at once. Once day White Fang meets his match in a bulldog named Cheever. While he is pinned on the floor by the enemy, Weedon Scott comes into the ring to save White Fang, buying the injured wolf-dog for three hundred dollars.
Through patience and kindness, Scott encourages White Fang. Slowly but surely, the wolf-dog again begins to trust a human. He finally eats out of Scott's hand and allows this kind master to pet him. It is the turning point in White Fang's life, for he has never before given or received love from a human. In appreciation for the affection that he feels, White Fang become totally devoted to Scott. When Scott goes away for a visit, the wolf-dog almost dies, refusing to eat or drink.
When Scott prepares to return home to California, White Fang senses that something is wrong. He barely leaves his master's heels. When Scott departs, he locks White Fang into the cabin until after he has set sail. White Fang breaks through the window and boards the steamer. Scott decides to take White Fang along to California, where he becomes the family pet and saves the life of Judge Scott. At the end of the novel, he is seen as the proud father of puppies and the faithful friend to his "god," Weedon Scott.
Kiche, the brave mother of White Fang and the intelligent leader of the wolf pack, plays a major role in the early part of the novel. Her cunning shows in her ability to lure the male dogs away from Harry and Bill's team of sled dogs. The two men are amazed at her boldness, for she approaches the fire and does not seem to fear humans. Later in the book, Kiche's past is explained. She has lived among the Indians and is comfortable around humans. In fact, when given a chance to leave her domesticated life style, she always returns to the Indian camp.
Kiche's maternal instinct makes her highly protective of White Fang and the other cubs. When they are young, she never lets them venture out of the cave and disciplines them when necessary. She also fights to get them food. She is even prepared to do battle with the female lynx if necessary in order to protect her offspring. When all of White Fang's siblings die due to the famine, White Fang becomes particularly close to Kiche, looking to her for guidance and protection. It seems she is always there to help him and saves him from the wolverine and the weasel.
When White Fang sees humans for the first time, he is amazed to see his mother approach them. She readily returns to life in the Indian camp, bringing White Fang with her. When she is traded to an Indian for a debt and taken away in a canoe, White Fang tries to swim after her. Gray Beaver, however, comes and retrieves the cub, who is almost grown. Later in the book, White Fang sees Kiche again, but she does not acknowledge him. She has had another litter, and White Fang is a threat to the security of her new cubs. White Fang is puzzled by Kiche's distant behavior, but accepts it. He will always respect Kiche as his mother and teacher.
Gray Beaver is the Indian master of White Fang. He does not demonstrate love for the wolf-dog, but is fair to him. Although he "tames" the wild creature through beatings, once the cub leans obedience, Gray Beaver is satisfied and often defends White Fang and gives him extra meat because he is proud of the cub's strength. As a result, White Fang respects and obeys Gray Beaver, believing him to be his "god".
Gray Beaver is not a cruel man; he simply belongs to a way of life in which violence is a means for survival. He believes he must clearly establish his authority and superiority over White Fang. If the wolf is to be useful as a sled dog, he must know how to follow commands without hesitation or questioning.
Unfortunately, Gray Beaver is easily tricked. When Beauty Smith sees how well White Fang fights, he wants the wolf for his own. To accomplish his goal, he begins to feed alcohol to Gray Beaver. Before long, the Indian becomes addicted to drinking. He spends all the money he has made from trading fur in the Yukon and then sells White Fang to Beauty for some bottles of whiskey. White Fang hates Beauty, for he is a merciless and violent master. He repeatedly tries to return to Gray Beaver, but the Indian, who is very honorable, always returns White Fang to his new owner.
In spite of his weaknesses, Gray Beaver, for the most part, is a faithful master to White Fang. He is also partially responsible for developing the wolf-dog's strength, intelligence, and independence.