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To Build A Fire Essay

1312 words - 6 pages

Jack London is an American author, journalist, and social activist. When it is fifty degrees

below zero, you are soaking wet, and you have just lost your last match…What will you do? To

Build a Fire, one of London’s short stories, illustrates a man who leaves the Yukon trail alone

to meet his companions on a day so cold that no man should travel. His only accompany is a big

native husky who considered him a fire-provider. The man accidentally soaks himself and fails

to set up a life-saving fire. He strives hard to survive against the Mother Nature, but he loses all

his strength, and finally, the power of nature deters and kills him. The whole story focuses on the

conflict of ...view middle of the document...

It

would become deadly for a man to step on it and get soaked. “…it stepped on the white, unbroken

surface. Suddenly it broke through…” It shows that the solid snow cover is a trap, it seems very

rigid and unbroken. However, the truth lays that it can be easily shattered just like how easily a

man can lose his life in this place. The whole setting reveals the danger and toughness of Mother

Nature, and efficiently helped to build the suspense.

Not only did London builds a strong background for the story, the perspective of

how the story has been told stands out also. Point view of this story functions as the camera of the

film. It has a decisive place in whether the story’s plot/conflict was drab or colourful. In the short

story To Build a Fire, London successfully utilizes the third person omniscient point of view, to

reveal all the thoughts and actions of all the character. This will definitely help to build up the

stairs that leads to the conclusion perfectly. The main character of the story, referred as “the man”

is quite brave but ignorant. He insists to go out alone despite the fact that the old-timer on Sulphur

Creek has warned him not to do so when it is fifty below zero. He thinks that, “Those old-timers

were rather soft…Any man who was a man could travel alone.” This revelation of the man’s

thought establishes the stubbornness and ignorance of the man. How he believes that the old-
timers were just being coward despite the fact that they knew the place much better than he does.

His arrogance is one of the reasons which directly causes his death at the end of the story. Unlike

the man, readers can easily tell that the dog, the man's only company, knows the cold and fears of

the cold. “The dog knew, all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge.” The dog

understands the best way to protect itself against the cold. It gets its knowledge from its past

ancestors, who may have been living here for many generations. The exposure of the dog’s mind

gives the reader a hint to the dog’s survival at the end. Lastly, the omniscient point of view enables

the reader to acknowledge one of the most important facts leading to the man’s death at the end,

the lack of trust and loyalty between the man and the dog. At the end of the story, the dog’s

reaction to the man’s death is nothing but turning away from him to the direction of the camp,

“…where were the other food-providers and fire-providers.” The dog simply considers the man as

a fire and food provider, it will not...

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