White Fang

Behavioral Changes in "White Fang" 11th Grade

Jack London is known for using naturalism and brutality as themes in his novels; however, it is also common for him to use philosophical ideas to advance his plots. One example that effectively shows this is London’s White Fang, which is significantly informed by Charles Darwin’s theories of survival and competition. More specifically, this work centers on the study of Social Darwinism, which is a belief that “the process of natural selection acting on variations in the population would result in the survival of the best competitors and in continuing improvement in the population” (“Social Darwinism” 1). This theory is articulated within the changes in White Fang’s behavior in different environments. White Fang shows how one’s behavior adapts through external influences and demonstrates the underlying presence of Social Darwinism.

The human characters have a significant impact on White Fang, prompting major changes in his behavior. One of these alterations occurs when he is forced into an unfamiliar and harsh environment. He must learn to survive with his new master, Beauty Smith, who is a described as “a sadistic master who beats White Fang and starves him to make him fight harder” (Reesman 3). The neglect and abuse from Smith...

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