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White Fang

White Fang

by Jack London

Freedom and Confinement Theme

Freedom is a tricky thing in White Fang. It means you can go where you want and do what you want, but it also means that you're on your own as far as that whole "getting food and shelter" thing goes. When he's with Grey Beaver, White Fang ultimately decides that confinement is better than freedom, since it gets him a steady meal. That turns around and bites him in the bum when Beauty Smith takes over. Scott, however, gives him the best sort of confinement—the kind based on trust that allows White Fang to roam free, knowing that he'll eventually come home. Like the balance between nature and civilization, the story could be seen as the search of a soft spot between freedom and confinement.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. What does freedom represent to White Fang? Why does he give it up to return to Grey Beaver's camp?
  2. Beauty Smith is afraid of giving White Fang any freedom. Weedon Scott isn't. What does this say about the two men's relationship with White Fang?
  3. How does London differentiate between physical confinement (where there are cages and bars and whatnot) and mental confinement (with no cages or bars, but with White Fang's poor little mind telling him to stay put)? 
  4. Is White Fang truly free at the end of the book? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

White Fang can never truly be free after he's domesticated by Grey Beaver.

White Fang is free in California, even though he's been domesticated.

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