In “To Build a Fire,” Jack London describes a man surviving a tough winter in the woods. When problems arise, he must use his judgement rather than think creatively. “No man must venture alone in the Klondike after fifty below,” an old-timer warned him before his assignment (London 238).
A wise older man would have advised him not to do anything. But his skepticism cost him his life. London shows readers how innate insight may change the course of events. “He lacked imagination,” London says (231- 232). This tells us that we must think of creative alternatives in challenging situations. London wants readers to understand that man needed warmth and unquenchable fire. As seen in “To Build a Fire,” humans have lost trust in their instincts to see beyond the surface of life and circumstances to a world where man is subordinate to natural forces.
“Day had broken chilly and bleak, exceedingly cold and grey”, begins the story. A brilliant day, yet without the light, there was a pall over everything, a faint shadow that turned the day dark. The reader also knows the man is in the far north of Canada.
Winters in the north are dark and chilly—Rainy and cold in London. The story employs code words like chilly, dark, and gloomy to emphasize London’s hardness. A fire story in London was originally substantially shorter. London used his excess wordage to build narrative suspense and atmosphere (Labor and Hendricks, 237). The first has a dog and the second a guy.
The first tale is still frigid and bleak, albeit less so. The reader feels relieved when the man lives and re-joins the kids. He wrote the second tale to fill in the gaps in the first. While reading, you hope the man survives and returns to camp, but he dies at the end. The extra details help the reader grasp how freezing it is and how much snow is on the ground. So the first is happier than the second when he dies, and the reader laments his absence from camp.
Man versus. Nature is the theme of “To Build a Fire”. With just a native dog for company, the unidentified man braves the harsh winter winds. A downward movement toward death and an upward trend toward reconnection and life. (Peterson) The story’s principal theme is decline.
The story goes downhill from there. The story’s biggest upward change occurs when he lights the fire, followed by the biggest downward shift when snow falls on it. Instead of thinking outside the box, the man reflexively places the fire beneath the tree, where the branches are conveniently accessible.
The man tried to start another fire, but his hands were numb from the cold. He might have weathered the terrible winter if the person had just anticipated the hot steam melting the snow on the tree above. As a result, he succumbed to nature.
It’s just an unnamed man, a dog, and an older man from Sulphur Creek! The “chechaquo” (London, 231) seeks to face the hardships in the winter woodland with only a dog. The man should not have endangered his life in the cold when he is from the south and used to moderate weather.
Hypothermia was probably not in his thoughts when he started his long walk. He let nature win, and he died. Before the trip, the guy believed he could dominate nature. In this man’s case, he had to think about the repercussions. He would not have travelled alone, and he would have prepared a proper fire (Bowen).
No, nature took him. London described it as a huge local husky, grey-coated and unremarkable wild wolf sister. In the chilly woods, his owner took him when he thought he couldn’t live. The dog’s instincts trump those of man. He was defrosting the dog’s legs as it fell into the river.
The dog may stay warm by lying in the snow. The man’s death teaches him to keep moving toward camp. “The story’s major guide is an old man from Sulphur Creek.” The older man warned the man about the hazards of walking alone in the woods with only a dog, but he ignored him. “You were right, old hoss,” he said quietly to the Sulphur Creek local (London, 244).
Disapproval of humanity’s lack of inherent discernment is shown in tone, theme, and characters. His story encourages readers to go beyond the obvious. People will take advantage of you and walk all over you if you are not careful and consider before acting. Like in the story, the man didn’t assess his situation, so nature used him. In a battle with nature, man’s vulnerability is shown by the man’s death, May says.
An outsider, intuition, and reasoning help the reader understand and subdue nature in London’s story. To use reason to achieve short-sighted goals, Peterson claims, “London suggests that contemporary man has let his basic instincts trophy.” London believes that doing what is easiest will lead to the guy in the story.
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Dwayne Smith ( Essay Help Expert )