Life Requires Imagination Essay

1738 words - 7 pages

Shelby Mullanix
Whalen
English 1302
14 May 2014
Life Requires Imagination
Not very many people have looked death in the eye. But, when a person does it is something can have a drastic effect on them. Some people are able to survive their deaths, however some end up passing on and are not able to turn their lives around. However, in the short story To Build a Fire by Jack London the man in the story does not survive his dance with death. In the story, the man, whom never gets a name, embarks on a very cold, very long journey to a mining camp. On his journey, he has to stop several times and build a fire in order to keep himself warm and keep himself going throughout his journey to the camp. He has a dog lead him, and then he must save the dog as it fell through the ice. Soon after, he ends up falling into the ice himself, he continues to build the fires to keep himself warm but the dog seems to stay closer to the fire than he does himself. This is acting as the dog trusting it’s instincts to stay warm. However, the fires are getting harder and harder to start. Soon in order to get the fire started, he uses the rest of his matches all at once for an attempt to get a good fire. However, all the matches go out, and then the man knows he really is in trouble. He decides to just lie down and face his death. As he slowly dies, he drifts into the most wonderful sleep he has ever known. He eventually dies and the dog howls to the moon as he passes away. This story is meant to teach the meaning of life. There are hard times and there are times when the fire just starts without hesitation. And eventually in life, a person must pass on. London uses three themes in his story to help the reader understand what the meaning of life is to London. The three themes that London uses are pride, foolishness and folly, and primitivism.
The first theme London uses in his story is pride. This man in the story has his own his of pride for himself. He needs to stay by the fire and keep warm, but rather than resting and staying warm, he keeps on moving trying harder and harder to make it to the mining camp. London never mentions whether or not the man has a time limit to get to the mining camp, therefore the reader assumes he does not. But, rather than waiting and keeping warm, the man simply keeps on moving when his body does need the rest. Also, he not only needs to keep warm, he separates himself from the boys. London states the other boys “had come over across the divide from the Indian creek country, while [the man] had come the round-about way to take a look at the possibilities of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon” (4). This basically shows how confident he was about going about this trip alone and how he needed no one by his side in order to have a successful journey. This man wants to be just that, a man. And if he slows himself down, he does not consider himself a man any longer. The man tries to do everything in his power to make...

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