Survival In Three Short Stories Essay

874 words - 3 pages

The effort to survive and to see another day has always been a problem since the first men walked the Earth. There are many obstacles that make living day-to-day a harsh struggle and many reasons why some fail to meet the expectations of this struggle. Some reasons of why people fail to thrive in life is captured vividly in the three short stories “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét, “How to Build a Fire,” by Jack London, and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The author of each story cunningly drops hints in the text as to why characters and civilizations lead themselves to doom. Their faults leading to their fate lies in their knowledge of hate, ignorance and tradition.
To begin, “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét expresses the fall of a civilization rather than a person. The story tells of a boy who travels to post-nuclear war New York City and sees the aftermath of the great burning, which refers to a nuclear bomb or missile. Benét writes, “It was fire falling from the sky and a mist the poisoned” (116). The author is trying to hint that a bomb was dropped. To construct a doomsday bomb, one must need knowledge of hate and of science, which led to the death of most of the world’s civilization. In addition, Benét also hints that this civilization fell because due to knowledge of hate when he writes, “When gods war with gods they use weapons we do not know” (116). The author expresses to the reader that this pass civilization must have had knowledge, for they knew how to use unknown weapons, which are made only for destruction. It was the knowledge of hate that led to majority of the world’s death in the epic story of “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét.
Next, the short story “How to Build a Fire,” by Jack London, unlike “The Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét, tells of the fall of a man. This man was traveling in the Yukon in the cold 50 degrease below zero and because of his ignorance the frigid climate caused his death. London tells of the traveler’s lack of concern for important survival instructions when he states, “The old timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after 50 below… those old timers were rather womanish, some of them, he thought” (12). The man, being ignorant, did not heed the old, experienced man’s warning and traveled alone leading to a grave mistake. London describes the man’s ignorance of not listening to...

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