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White Fang

White Fang


by Jack London

White Fang Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph) Shmoop has numbered the chapters continuously, but the book renumbers them in each Part.

Quote #1

It was in this way that the grey cub learned other attributes of his mother than the soft, soothing, tongue. In his insistent crawling toward the light, he discovered in her a nose that with a sharp nudge administered rebuke, and later, a paw, that crushed him down and rolled him over and over with swift, calculating stroke. (6.6)

Confinement in the wild seems like a safety thing here. Mom keeps White Fang away from the cave entrance so that he doesn't get eaten by… well, by any ol' thing that could happen along. That makes confinement a real trap—you get safety in exchange for the ability to go wherever you want—and London plays with it in other points of the book as well.

Quote #2

Then, at the same instant, he saw and smelt. Before him, sitting silently on their haunches, were five live things, the like of which he had never seen before. It was his first glimpse of mankind. (9.2)

Mankind: the ultimate confinement? Once White Fang joins them, he can't ever go back. The question becomes whether he's ever free at all once he goes to them.

Quote #3

He was homesick. He felt a vacancy in him, a need for the hush and quietude of the stream and the cave in the cliff. Life had become too populous. (9.39)

Homesickness is probably another word for freedom here. White Fang understands what he's lost and he's pretty bummed about it… no matter how much free fish he gets.

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