Survival in the Wild: Jack London's To Build a Fire and Arthur Gordon's Sea Devil

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Anxiety, suspense, hesitation, and death; these all revolve around survival, which lets humans go over their limits and see what they’re really capable of. Survival is a mix of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Though there are many stories that challenges man over his abilities, there are two stories that show survival that question our dominance as human beings. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London and “Sea Devil” by Arthur Gordon are both about characters that have caught themselves in a battle between man and nature. In “To Build a Fire” the man is facing freezing temperatures and in “Sea Devil” the man is being pulled and swept along by a Manta Ray. These stories illustrate that to survive you need to always be thinking of what…show more content…
Another example in “To Build a Fire” shows how not to survive and lead to one’s demise is that the man is very arrogant and too self-confident in himself. The man thinks he can do anything and survive nature at its greatest, while not giving his body the proper care from the environment. The man is overconfident, which leads him to his death without the proper care for his body. This example shows the man’s lack of mental survival, and how he could’ve overcome it. It says in the text, “Fifty degrees below zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and must be guarded……Fifty degrees below zero was to him precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head.” (London 21). Therefore this quote tells that the man is being overconfident by thinking that fifty degrees below zero is nothing important and that he can withstand it. This shows how not to survive because the man is arrogant and thinking he can survive the cold, but he can’t. Since he made the mistake of thinking fifty degrees below zero is not important nor will it affect him, he dies at the end of the story. This shows his lack of mental survival because he is not thinking what would happen to him in these temperatures, and if he had thought straight he would have survived. He was attempting mental survival but failed in doing so. From these examples it is clear that “To Build a Fire” tells how not to survive and

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