We usually think of coming-of-age stories as distinctly human-based—a youngster heads out into the great wide world and learns how to be a grown-up in the midst of all its troubles and strife. London takes that notion and applies it to a wolf, who has to explore the world, lose his innocence, and find out how tough life can be. There's also a clever reversal in White Fang. In most coming-of-age stories, the hero starts out at home and goes out into the world. Here, the hero starts out in the world, and—through his slow, painful, killing-a-lot-of-dogs-along-the-way path—eventually finds his way home.
Questions About Coming of Age
At what point does White Fang truly become a grown-up animal? How can you tell?
Does White Fang ever stop learning things? What does this say about his coming of age?
How does Grey Beaver help White Fang come of age? How does he hinder White Fang's coming of age?
Chew on This
White Fang's coming of age is different than the coming of age in a human. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
White Fang comes of age the same way that humans in other stories do. The only difference is the species.