Jack London's To Build a Fire Essay example

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Jack London's To Build a Fire

In his short story entitled "To Build a Fire," Jack London portrays a bitter conflict between man and nature. The nature in this story is the harsh environment of the Yukon Trail. London chose to use nature as the antagonist, almost as a force working against the main character in his struggle for survival. London accomplished this personification of nature by giving the environment many human characteristics, by creating numerous things going wrong that really should not have happened, and by foreshadowing the protagonist's fate all throughout the story.

The author used such a struggle with man versus nature in many of his stories. He liked to portray a sort
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This further personifies the environment as an antagonist working against the main character.

Furthermore, the personified nature continues to thwart the protagonist, impeding his progress towards safety. It is almost as if nature is exacting revenge on the man for his arrogance in believing he could prevail against the natural forces. When the protagonist attempts to build a fire to ward off the cold, nature retaliates by extinguishing the one last chance he had at survival. It is almost as if nature is assuring the reader that it is out to get the man, because everything that could go wrong happened.

Also throughout the story, the main character is completely surrounded by warning signs that he should turn back. While still in the village, a refuge from the harshness of the outside world, the man realizes that the temperature must be colder than fifty below. "He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air" (London 118). In addition, not long after leaving the village, he is already stricken with the beginnings of frostbite. When he settles down to eat lunch, his exposed skin instantly goes numb, and he is forced to don his mittens once again. The man, however, heeds none of the