The Need Of Being Versed In Country Things And The Old Man And The Sea

2511 words - 10 pages

As time goes on, the relationship of man and nature evolves as men start to realize that nature is an unforgiving force. Man versus nature is a conflict of a person with a natural force and it is used as plot in fiction works. Most common forces of nature used include the help of winter and conflict with wild animals. The authors of the 19th century were naturalists. Naturalism conveys that human behavior is determined by the environment. These authors evaluate human actions objectively. They portray life as a battle that will be lost no matter what which concludes that humans are incapable of controlling there future. This literary movement helps justify their depiction of the conflict. The struggle of man against nature has been used to develop plot in literature that also serves to expose either a heroic or culpable side of the characters.
Jack London uses nature as an obstacle to depict a witless human. Nature can be very restricting and limits expose an individual's character when they react to surpass the limit. This is seen in "To Build a Fire". A man was traveling on a trail in the hostile environment of Yukon to mine for gold. He decided to travel even though it was "75 degrees below zero"(483), which shows that he is overconfident in his survival skills. His actions lead him to severe consequences. This man thinks of this journey as easy and makes fun of the guys who advise him to not go. "It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man's place in the universe”(482). This quote explicitly presents the foolishness of the man and his arrogance. London highlights that humans are weak and they need a certain body temperature to survive but the man is indifferent to the environment. He does not take the conditions seriously. He uses his own judgment to continue his journey.
The man treats nature as if it can be tamed. He is a "keenly observant"(London 482) individual which is ironic because he "falls through ice"(London 483). This shows that his own judgment is the cause of his death. London does not name this character and it emphasizes that the man is lonesome; desolated in a bleak and perilous environment. Humans’ lack of important to nature is seen through this isolation. "He spoke to the dog, calling it to him; but in his voice was a strange note of fear that frightened the animal, who had never known the man to speak in such way before”(London 482). The man now has no options, since he is out of matches for fire, other than to kill the dog. He predicts it will keep him warm in the carcass. This reveals his evil side and immorality. The man made the wrong choices from the beginning and when conflicted, he thinks he can win nature by killing the innocent dog. But the dog knew better than to be caught." Its instincts told...

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