Essay on Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire

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Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire

With regard to Jack London's, "To Build a Fire", I will attempt to analyze

the significance of the dog, however in doing so I will need to discuss not

only the dog, but the man and nature as well, because they all impact one

another with equal significance. It is my opinion that throughout most of

the story the dog is to represent a living creatures innate instincts

(although I was lead to question this at the end), the man represents desire

and sheer will (although he also shows many signs of repressed instinct),

and nature represents the force which triggers instinctual behavior (perhaps

a temporary barrier if obeyed, or potentially a life ending blow if
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Very early into their days journey (and the story as well), nature had

displayed vividly its' warnings; "This spittle had crackled in the air",

"he rubbed his numb nose and cheekbones", "the frozen moisture of its

breathing had settled on its fur in a fine powder of frost", "the man's red

beard and mustache were likewise frosted". Not to mention the fact that the

man was surprised at the cold, and many times was consumed with the thought,

that it was cold. /In these instances the man should have been a little

more conscientious of natures physical warnings, or at least considered his

own thoughts more thoroughly, but he was preoccupied with the task at hand.

Perhaps it was instinct, or maybe the dog was simply more aware, but either

way it was obvious that unlike the man, he respected the cold and the

potential wrath of nature.

Now throughout the story there are a few instances where the dogs instincts

and the man's thoughts (or repressed instincts) coincide. The first would

be that they both appear to acknowledge the fact that it is bitterly cold,
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