To Build A Fire
This is a short story written by Jack London. It is an anthologized classic. The story portrays the conflict between man and nature. This heartbreaking story is set in the wintry landscape in the Yukon territory. Only characters in the novel are a man and a dog. The novel is an example of the literary movement called naturalism. Naturalists believe that the world is deterministic and that people do not have free will. Because of that, the naturalists avoided making moral judgments on the actions of their characters. The environment has determined that actions. In To Build A Fire the lower-class man is trying to become rich in the Klondike Gold Rush.
The lower classes are more favorable to depicting the rough and indifferent environment. The central character is a young man who thinks he knows the frozen wilderness, he did not learn to respect the power of nature. The man’s arrogance is in conflict with his common sense. He does not understand the danger of the hostile environment where he can only survive if he owns instinct, skill and native wit. Before the winter comes, an old man warned our character not to travel alone in temperatures colder than fifty degrees below zero. But he only laughed the old man’s advice. When he finds himself in the bitter cold, he starts to value the old man’s advice.
The plot development is accumulative as the character’s dilemma gets more and more desperate and as he reluctantly learns his lesson. His ridiculous and silly belief in himself and his ability to deal with the situation is kept until the end. The character refuses to give up hope but is clearly that he is losing his touch with reality. At the end the man freezes to death and his dog survives. The dog is an animal of instinct untainted by pride, he can adapt better to the environment than the man.
SUMMARY-To Build A Fire
A newcomer travels to Yukon on an awfully cold morning with his husky wolf-dog. The man is not bothered by the cold. He is going to meet his friends by six o’clock that night at the next settlement. He walks along the creek aware of danger. His cheekbones are cold, but he does not pay too much attention to that. He tells himself that frozen cheekbones are not serious, to soothe himself psychologically. He tries not to think about the cold. He knows the area very well. Also he is aware of the danger of springs beneath the snow. They are covered with a thin layer of ice. Now, the man is very worried about the springs but he underestimates the possible danger.