In ‘To Build a Fire”, the author, Jack London creates a tale that reflects his voyage in the Klondike gold rush as a miner in the glacial and cold terrain of Alaska and Canada during 1897 to 1898. The short story is about an unnamed man who takes his own journey through the Yukon in Alaska, where the temperature is 75 degrees below zero. The man and his dog, a husky, set out for their journey on an exceeding cold and gray day. Although he never reaches his destination, the unnamed man faces many obstacles throughout his journey that portray the characteristics of a hero; this can be shown through his persistence, independence and knowledge.
The unidentified man in the short story has a lot perseverance and determination to reach his final destination, which are two qualities found in heroes. In the exposition of the story, it is known that he steps away from the main trail and wanders off in the Yukon to meet the other miners on a fork of Henderson creek. On his nine-hour walk in the brutal weather, he hopes to find logs in the springs from the islands. The man is a chechaquo, which means that he is a new-comer to the land and does not know what to expect because it is his first winter. During his trip, he is well aware that it is cold out, but he underestimates the weather and does not think much of it. In the short story, the narrator states, “But all of this – the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence of the sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, the strangeness and the weirdness of it all – made no impression on the man” (Kass, et al. 68). No matter what the conditions were, the man did not let it distract him and he decided to persist through it all. A hero will take any situation and work with it, all of the negatives and positives.
A hero has a strong will and is independent. Although the man in the story is accompanied by the native husky, he is independent. In a conversation, one of the editors of What So Proudly We Hail, Leon Kass stated:
The man is certainly independent. He hears advice from the old-timer at Sulphur Creek, but he relies basically on his own judgment, on his own capacity. He is not only independent, but he is self-reliant. He is competent. Even though he is a newcomer to the territory, he is very observant. He’s a keen observer and knows the things around him. When the going gets tough, though he might panic for a moment, he is able to beat down that panic with efforts of self-command. He is practical and enduring. And not to be omitted is that which relates to the title of the story: he knows how to build a fire. (Study Guide)
The old-timer at Sulphur-Creek gives the man a lot of advice for his trip. When the old-timer tells him not to travel...