Essay about To Build A Fire: Naturalism

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“To Build A Fire” is a clear example of naturalism and follows many of its conventions. Some of the characteristics of naturalism are being conditioned or controlled by the environment, having the world understood only through objective science, conflicts which bring out the instincts of man, pessimism, and presenting a viewpoint which is detached from the reader.
One characteristic of Naturalism in literature is that the characters in a story are described as being conditioned or controlled by the environment in which they are in; in essence man versus nature. In “To Build A Fire”, the man travels in the Yukon at a bone-chilling 75 degrees below zero. The environment in this story is used to portray a harsh, unforgiving landscape that
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He also uses the word accident to describe what happened here: “Old-timers are ‘womanish,’ and that even with his ‘accident,’ he had saved himself in solitude.” Again, the word accident implies something outside of one’s control. However the next accident which occurred is described by the author as a mistake here: “It was his own fault or, rather, his mistake. He should not have built the fire under the spruce tree.” A mistake is something which suggests that an individual was responsible for what happened. Naturalism seems to go against this very concept; however, the concept also says that the responsibility of an individual remains as long as one can foresee a consequence. One other thing which is significant to the environment is how it must be viewed through objective science. Numbers play an important role in the story and are described in it frequently. The temperature of the environment the man is in is described (75 below 0), and also the number of matches the man has (70). The author could have stated the man had a lot of matches, or, a little, but he gave an approximate number. This illustrates that facts like temperature in degrees, or the number of matches make the world and environment one is in able to be understood by properties such as truth and reason. Nothing related to the supernatural or fiction is used to explain why things occur in the story. The man simply failed to recognize the facts in front of him which
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