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The Theory of Literature and Realism

He refers to the "old covenant" between wolf and man, something that extends back to primitive times and "by which the wolf adopts the man-god for protection and food while in turn he obeys and protects his master" (Walcutt 147), a reference to the development of the domesticated dog. White Fang makes his first covenant with a harsh Indian, and this covenant is broken during a famine when the mater sells White Fang for a bottle of liquor. White Fang, like Buck in The call of the Wild, is then pitted against other animals in combat for money until he is rescued, and he gives himself wholly to his rescuer in his second covenant:

In these two stories we can see the disguised and projected expression of London's contradictory theories of individualism and socialism. Buck is the individualist who defies society and finally rejects it completely. White Fang is tamed by love and turns from a savage wolf into a home-keeping dog (Walcutt 147).

The owners of white fang clearly possess different characteristics and stand at different social levels, and the dog as well fits in whatever level the master enjoys. In the Indian camp, White Fang behaves badly because he is treated badly:

Savageness was part of his make-up, but the savageness thus developed exceeded his make-up. He acquired a reputation for wickedness amongst the man-animals themselves (London 86).

White Fang senses the nature of the men with whom he comes into contact, and again he responds to the place each holds in society. His response to Beauty Smith is an example:

This was the man that looked at White Fang, delighted in his ferocious prowess, and desired to possess him. He made overtures to White Fang from the first. White Fang began by ignoring him (London 123).

London shows throughout how environmental determinism shapes the character of White Fang, from his philosophy of "eat or be eaten" in the wild to the way Lip-Lip torments him in camp. In the ...

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