Essay about Epiphany in to Build a Fire

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An Analysis of the Man’s Epiphany in "To Build a Fire" The short story "To Build a Fire," written by Jack London, is a tragic tale of an overconfident, inexperienced man traveling through the brutal, sub-freezing conditions of the Yukon with only the companionship of a dog. The man, un-named in this story, arrogantly decides to break from the main trail to take a less traveled route against the advice of the seasoned old-timer of Sulfur Creek, who warns of traveling alone in such severe conditions. The man is described as being without imagination and not aware of the significance of the things around him, how frail his life is. As his journey prolongs, his confidence builds as he continually cheats nature, but the temperature extends…show more content…
In London’s story, it is this realization by the man that has him swallow his pride and ego in admittance of how frail his existence really was. The events leading to the man’s revelation build his character to be very pompous and arrogant; this being his first winter and a newcomer to the area, not heeding the warning of such seasoned prospects as the old-timer is foolish. He even recollects having laughed at the old-timer upon mention of “how cold it sometimes got in the country.”(Kennedy & Giona, 2007, p. 123) His self-belief is boasted, as he is able to dupe the thin ice and avoid the freezing water beneath it multiple times, even sending the reluctant dog ahead of him in one instance. What the man lacks is basic instinct, which is inherent in the dog, to know that it is too cold to travel in such rigorous conditions. He disregards all of the signs, even though many are very much apparent to him. He can feel it getting colder in his numb limbs, and see it getting colder as his spit freezes before even reaching the ground, yet he is determined to continue. In his lack of experience, he misses the dog’s hesitance to leave the fire built at lunch, as well its delay to press on over the thin ice. The man’s instinct has been replaced by intellect, which allows him to reason with himself into thinking that the temperature is just a number or that he can easily see where the pitfalls lay along the snowy trail. As the man travels
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