Critical Analysis Of Jack London's To Build A Fire

765 words - 3 pages

When a person from the civilized world is put into a hostile environment, it is extremely difficult to overcome the adversity presented because of the deterioration of man's primal instincts. In a foreign setting, impulses and reactions are slower and thoughts take longer to process. Besides that, people must not be shallow in their thinking, for if they do not critically go in depth, it could prove to be the difference between life and death. In the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, this is what happened. Because of the man's inability to see danger and his futile effort to cling on to life, London shows what happens when human nature deteriorates.The man's inability to see danger exemplified how unimaginative and shallow the man's thoughts actually are. Knowing that it is fifty degrees below zero or lower, the man still doesn't realize the danger and trouble he is in. He lacks the one thing that could help him survive, imagination (SSC 275). As London explains, "fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all." This shows that the man is without imagination, and does not do any deep thinking. Even with the knowledge that the freezing temperatures can spell death, he marches on ignorantly. Soon, he is forced to build a fire as a result of accidentally plunging knee-deep into the cracked icy surface. Unfortunately, because of his lack of perception, he could not see that he builds a fire right under a snow-laden branch (SSC 276). In the story, London writes how foolish the man is, "But before he could cut the strings it happened. It was his own fault, or, rather, his mistake. He should not have built the fire under the Spruce tree. He should have built it in the open." These snow-covered boughs fell on the infant fire and it was immediately distinguished. By losing the fire, the man realizes that he will lose if he doesn't start another fire. Sadly, from then on, it will go downhill. The caustic air of the Arctic has always been punishing on people who are careless with what they wear. Not surprisingly, the man feels the wrath...

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