To Build A Fire Literary Analysis

Decent Essays
“To Build a Fire” by Jack London, is about a man who is unnamed, who travels from the Yukon trail on a deathly cold morning with a wolf-dog to meet up with his friends at a camp at Henderson Creek. The man is advised by a wise old man to not travel alone in such weather when it is extremely cold. But the man doesn’t pay attention to the little things and disregards the warnings and continues his journey. The central idea suggests a broad theme of man versus nature. Jackson shows this idea through intellectual (traveler) versus instinctive (wolf-dog). The travelers lack of recognition for instinctive decisions leads him on the path of self-destruction and death.
The main character of the story is a hiker traveling from the Yukon trail. All
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The old man at Sulphur Creek provides a supporting role in the story. He is repeatedly brought up throughout the story when the traveler recalls the advice he was given. “The man was extremely serious when he said that no man should travel alone”(Jackson ). His advice and warning are what creates tension to the story. The traveler brushes off the old man’s advice and says the old man probably couldn’t do handle it because old men are “womanish” (Jackson ). As the traveler continues his journey he realizes that being alone and traveling in such cold weather is dangerous. When he makes the fire the first time he makes it under a pine tree. The snow from the tree falls on the fire taking away the warmth he needed to reheat his body. The second time he tries to make the fire he couldn’t hold on to the matches. The matches fell on the floor and he says how if “he had a companion on the trail he would be in no danger” (Jackson ). He recalls how if he was traveling with someone the companion could have built the fire. “Now, he must build the fire again, and this second time he must not fail” (Jackson). Later, he says “perhaps the old man on Sulphur Creek was right. If he had a companion on the trail he would be in no danger now” (Jackson ). He also understands how the world is more instinctual instead of intellectual. He doesn’t realize until later that there might be a situation which he cannot
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