Essay Jack London's To Build a Fire

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Jack London's To Build a Fire

Nature is always pushing man to his limits. When man heeds the warning signs that nature has to offer and those warnings of other men, he is most likely to conquer nature. When he ignores these warnings, nature is sure to defeat man. To build a fire is a prime example of this scenario. In the short story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, an inexperienced traveler in the Yukon travels alone with his dog, even though it is ill advised to do so. The man is strong and smart but nature humbled him during his quest to reach his friends. The man’s inexperience with traveling in the cold subzero temperatures doomed him from the beginning, but his strong focus under extreme pressure and his keen sense of
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He had the ‘book smarts’ about walking through the Yukon but he lacked the ‘street smarts.’ He may lack experience and imagination in traveling in subzero temperatures but his calm nature allows him to stay focused, even when the fire is snuffed out by the falling snow from the tree and he thought of it as hearing his own death sentence. “It was as though he had just heard his own sentence of death. For a moment he sat and stared at the spot where the fire had been. Then he grew very calm.” (London, 529) Furthermore, when he is sure he will lose his toes and fingers, he does not lose sight of his most important goal, surviving. London tells how, even when in grave danger, the man regroups without panic and strong belief in his own abilities. “Well, it was up to him to build the fire over again, and this second time there must be no failure. Even if he succeeded, he would most likely lose some toes” and “Such were his thoughts, but he did not sit and think them.” (London, 529)

When his inexperience exposes itself to him, he remembers the old-timers words of wisdom. The man did not realize the prudence behind the old-timer’s words of wisdom. He ignored the old-timers cautions and dangers of traveling alone, making him foolish and naïve to his situation. “That man from Sulphur Creek had spoken the truth when telling how cold it sometimes got in the country. And he had laughed at him at the time!” (London, 528)
The man blinds himself with his
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