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To Build A Fire, By Jack London

1091 words - 4 pages

No one plans on or even wants to lose their life due to an unfortunate mishap. Isn’t it better to check twice and thoroughly plan ahead as opposed to finding oneself in an unfortunate situation? No wonder mothers ask so many questions; they leave no scope for misunderstanding. Jack London’s “To Build A Fire,” both 1902 and 1908 versions, cause distress in readers’ minds and make them wonder how a simple topic of surviving in the cold can turn out so horrific. A handful of alterations were made to the original version of the story; some add a completely new meaning, while others only provide slight nuances. Most will find that a distinct portion of the 1908 version relates to naturalism and realism—terms that resemble the unpredictable situations in real life. Some readers—perhaps younger individuals—may prefer the 1902 version due to the fact that London initially wrote the story for a young boys’ magazine. Others, however, may enjoy the mystery and details provided in the 1908 version. While any story can create a brand new image by changing a few sentences, removing the main character’s name, reducing the level of confidence, and diminishing preparedness are some of the more obvious and worthwhile variations found between the 1902 and 1908 versions of Jack London’s “To Build A Fire,” a short story of the superior class.
As in any other story, the main character adds substance to the full picture. One of the prominent changes in the two different versions includes a name attached to the main character in the 1902 story, unlike in the 1908 one. A name adds a significant meaning; for example, a nickname could come from a person’s behavior or their interests. In 1902, London fails to arouse the readers’ curiosity because they are explicitly told the name: Tom Vincent. For younger students, a name allows them to comprehend the story better, for the simple reason that they could focus on the meaning of the story rather than trying to figure out who the character really is. Conversely, the absence of a name in the 1908 version creates a mystery as to who “the man” really is (483). By not giving out his identity or his origins, London allows a larger audience to connect with him. In some ways, the removal of the name enables the reader to be “the man”—a simple use of naturalism. Without a name, a character may lose significance; after the death of “the man” in the revised edition, the dog simply continues on without heartbreak, “Then it turned and trotted up the trail” (493). Giving details allows focus on the story as a whole, while removing some leaves room for the readers to draw their own conclusions.
At times, taking single steps may seem like the correct way to go, but taking a jump without any support might be a simpler option. Everything may be perfect until the last second, but still end in a tragedy. The figure in 1902 seems as if he knows everything will turn out alright. He also seems confident of his actions and not at all worried...

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