Jack London Essay

1251 Words6 Pages
Jack London, an American author known for his thrilling adventure stories, showed the world that even an exciting story that takes place in exotic settings can include all the intricacies of great literature. This is seen in many of his stories with the implementation of symbolism, many times a recurring theme in his work. Also, London used many ideas of the day such as Darwinism and Spencerism in his writings in order to better portray his views. However, perhaps one of the most telling signs that London wrote good literature was through London's mastery of a rising literary movement known as naturalism. As seen in multitude of London's works, symbolism plays a major role in his writings. One of London's greatest works of…show more content…
In "To Build a Fire," a mysterious man, referred to as "the man" (Rhodes 1) in many literary critiques, must survive a hump over the frozen tundra of the Klondike, and with him he takes his husky. The two characters act as foils to each other, each experiencing the same situations as the other, but it is their responses to the situations that show the difference between the two. For example, both the husky and the man break through the ice and got their paws/feet wet: "Suddenly it (the husky) broke through… the water that clung to it turned to ice" (London 500) and then later "…the man broke through (the ice)" (London 501-502). It is the husky, however, that proved more adept to coping with the freezing climate of the North, especially after having gotten wet in a freezing creek. Because of this innate ability of the husky, he survived the ordeal whereas the man died of hypothermia after his fire, which was meant to dry out his foot, was snuffed out by the Northern snow. "It was as though he had heard his own sentence of death. For a moment he sat there and stared at the spot where the fire had been" (London 503). It is this symbol of survival that is perhaps the most characteristic and recurring theme in London's writings, known as Spencerism. Many ideas of the late 19th century and early 20th century are apparent in London's writing, chief among them being his belief in Spencerism. This was an idea created by

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