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The Build A Fire By Jack London

1541 words - 7 pages

The short story “To Build a Fire” written by Jack London tells the tale of one mans journey to find his fellow hikers campsite in dangerously cold temperatures. The man’s journey ends when Mother Nature gets the best of him and he perishes in the cold. While it may seem as though the main conflict, man against nature, is what killed the man, the man’s internal conflict, his pride and masculinity versus his humility is what actually kills him. Nature, in reality, just finished the blow while the man’s internal conflict is what really weakened him to that point of death. Without an understanding of conflict, this true reason why the man died would slip past the reader.
Conflict specifically is defined as the tension between two opposing forces that exist in a story. Conflict can be either external or internal. Externally, these conflicts can be seen as struggles between characters or can even be shown as one character against a society or even nature. Internally, the conflict is usually portrayed as a battle within a character and is basically a mental conflict. These conflicts help create the plot of the story by forcing certain characters to act while also forcing other characters to counteract. All of these actions end up creating the plot of the story. The most important aspect of conflict is the resolution. Without the resolution, the theme of the story most likely cannot be inferred. The resolution plays a huge part in hinting at the story’s theme. Also an important question to ask when dealing with conflicts is not what type of conflict it is but instead, what is the conflict over? The answer to this question can lead to a better understanding of the characters and also the plot and theme of the story. All in all, the conflict is a huge part of the story, especially the short story. Within novels, many small conflicts may exist but more often than not, in a short story there is one main conflict that is very important to the structure, plot, theme, and characterization of the short story. Conflict is a huge part of the short story.
It may seem as though the main external conflict in the story, man versus nature, is what caused the man to die but in reality, the man died because of the internal struggle of his pride and masculinity versus humility. For example, when the man was first beginning to realize how cold it actually was he states “fifty degrees below zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded by the use of mittens, ear flaps, warm moccasins, and thick socks” (London 736). The man is saying that the cold just hurts a little bit but it’s nothing that a few articles of clothing won’t protect. In this case, he refuses to accept that it is very cold and very dangerous and won’t take the right precautions because that would take away from his masculinity and his pride and he would be humiliated. To him, his pride and masculinity are more important than his safety and his life. With this example, the man is not...

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