To Build a Fire: Revealing the Man

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The story To Build a Fire demonstrates possible dangers of traveling in the Yukon under extreme cold. Through a young man, Jack London depicts the consequences of ignoring instinct and survival advice. The man travels with a dog, who can perceive the dangers of the freezing wilderness. The reader learns of the man's personality through descriptive words and phrases while journeying through the story. At the beginning of the story the man turned aside from the main trail. He stopped at the top of a bank and looked over the landscape. The day was clear, yet the narrator says there exists an "Intangible pall" over things (London 920). Intangible means, incapable of being perceived by the senses, or being realized. A pall is a dark…show more content…
With no fire to stay warm, the man's extremities were becoming increasingly numb. A sudden fear of death came over him, a "poignant" fear (London 929). Poignant means in his case that the fear became keenly distressing to the mind or feelings. He realizes the likeliness of dying out there. The man begins to panic and starts to run up the creek and his dog follows behind (London 929). The man should have foreseen this setback because of the seventy below weather. London's careful word choice of poignant enables the reader to sympathize with what the man is experiencing. The words and phrases Jack London uses in To Build a Fire gives rich meaning to the story. The story covers a man's fatal journey through the Yukon wilderness with his dog. The further the reader goes into the story, the more the reader learns about the man's personality. The man is young and quite arrogant in his ability to survive in the extreme cold. In the end, the man's misjudgments lead to his early death. • London, Jack. "To Build a Fire." The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's,
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