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Overconfidence And Arrogance In To Build A Fire By Jack London

658 words - 3 pages

Overconfidence and Arrogance in To Build a Fire by Jack London

Overconfidence and arrogance led to the death of the man in Jack
London's "To Build a Fire." This overconfidence in his own abilities
led to him making poor decisions and scorning the advice of those who
know what they are talking about. Instead, he laughs at the old man
after he tells him "a man should travel with a partner" (1769) and
goes out into the frigid weather anyway. He knew that it was 75
degrees below zero and that his body was numb but he didn't care
because he thought he could handle it. Even when he was about to die
he thought, "freezing to death is not as bad as people thought it
was"(1772) and "when he got back to the states he could tell the folks
what real cold was."(1772) Obviously the man did not take the
situation seriously. Instead of dying with dignity he thought about
himself "running around like a chicken with its head cut off." (1772)

He time and again snubs the warnings that he is receiving from nature.
He encountered many warnings that it was too cold to be outside.
First, his nose and cheeks went numb. His face, feet and hands
followed. His beard grew icy and when he spit the spittle froze in the
air before it hit the ground. Beating his hands and rubbing his face
helped the situation temporarily. After he got his feet wet they
froze. He "became aware of sensation in his hand." When he lit the
last fire he smelled his flesh burning, he could not feel it. In his
arrogance, the man disregarded the warnings of nature, and terrible
cold.

In the end the man finally realizes the seriousness of the situation
that his arrogance has put him in.

A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. This fear
quickly became poignant as he realized that it was no longer a mere
matter of freezing his fingers and toes, or losing his hands and feet,
but that it was a matter of life and death with the chances against
him.

Without a doubt, the man now realized that the Yukon had already
...

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