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To Build A Fire Essay

1093 words - 4 pages

     Interpretation “To Build a Fire”
     In the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, a man is travelling through the klondike in Alaska to find his friends, "the boys". Because the man is only quick and alert to the things of life and not the significance, he finds himself in some very bad circumstances. The man experiences several instances of bad luck such as getting wet up to his knees, the spruce tree dumping snow on his fire, and matches falling through his numb fingers and going out in the snow. I think that the central idea of "To Build a Fire" is to listen to your instincts and the “significances of life,” because they will help you when you find yourself in troublesome circumstances. The man in this story is so focussed on reaching "the boys" that he overlooks numerous consequences because he is focussed on the individual actions. The man did not respect mother nature's power, in his arrogance he didn't listen to the "significances of life" nor his instincts so he ended up paying for it with his life.
     The man "was without imagination" and only understood the facts. He was a newcomer without much experience and thought that he could conquer mother nature. In fact, he thought that any real man could overcome the odds. To him everything was just facts. For example, the temperature was seventy five below zero, which didn't mean anything to him except a number. He did not think of his "frailty as a creature of temperature." He laughed at the "old-timer at Sulphur Creek" when he warned him not to travel alone when it was so cold. The old man was experienced in life he was very wise, but the newcomer just called him "womanish". Even at the end of the story when the man knew he was going to die, he still was thinking that "freezing was not so bad as people thought" and "when he got back to the states he could tell folks what real cold was." This shows that the man wasn't taking his situation very seriously. He wanted to die with dignity instead of thinking of family or people who cared about him, he foolishly thought about how stupid he looked "running like a chicken with it's head off." He was stupid and responsible for his own death because he did not listen to his instincts and the "significances of life".
     The man received many clues throughout the story which told him that it was not safe to be out alone. He knew that it was colder than fifty below zero when he tried to spit the juice from his chewing tobacco and it wasn't unable to clear his chin before it froze. "The result was that a crystal beard of the color and solidity of amber was increasing it’s length on his chin." Several times he comments that the cold was making his hands and feet numbed, and frostbite was killing his cheeks....

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