to build a fire

One theme illustrated in the story is the man's sense of judgment contrasted with the dog's animal instincts. For instance, London described “He did not bare his fingers more than a minute and was surprised to find that they were numb.” [8] In less than 60 seconds, his fingers were numb indicating to him that it is too dangerous for him to be outside, yet he progressed despite how dangerous it was. Naturalism was a movement in literature developed largely by Emile Zola, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, and Jack London in the late 19th-century. He lights the fire, igniting all of his matches and burning himself in the process due to the numbness in his hands. On the other hand, London shows that men who lack the same instincts, such as the man in the story, fail and don't survive.[7]. This helps to build the idea that the man believes nature is intended to serve him. After the first fire is put out, his desperation becomes more defined as he seemingly will do anything to survive, including attempting to kill his dog for warmth and using all his matches at once in a final attempt to light his last fire. The short story depicts the protagonist's battle of life and death while highlighting the importance of the fire. There are two versions of this story, one published in 1902 and the other in 1908. The frozen moistness of its breathing had settled on its fur in a . "To Build a Fire" is a short story by American author Jack London. The 1908 version is about an unnamed male protagonist who ventures out in the subzero boreal forest of the Yukon Territory. 3�x���d΢ZD!��?�A����Y�5R�ҷqA53����_���Zs��n �#��q���:��La��8'L�!V��U *2�V��Z��+8�3��!���#�T��+ �x���j� �_�� '��YT.+dZ�\�P�9"�~"�`U#���_�H1�I^�K���.M�K�q�D)Tr���ُ$�s�+im>Y���)x�I7�M7.�t;Dw�x�ct����2�Q��������5 He knew that it was cold but he did not realize the threat this posed on his life.[12]. He was cruel towards the dog by having the dog walk in extreme temperatures. Although the man makes several mistakes and gets frostbite in his fingers and toes, he continues to fight for survival. The old man warns the protagonist of this and also seems to have a better understanding of the natural world, respecting the fact that there are some situations the man will be unable to control. However, London depicts death quite differently than many other authors do. [9], Wisdom and experience is another theme that is present throughout the story. The unnamed man, a chechaquo (newcomer to the Yukon)[2], sets out to hike through the forests bordering the Yukon River on a winter day where the temperature has fallen to −75 °F (−59 °C). The protagonist is seen reflecting on his advice towards his demise and realizes that the old man of Sulphur Creek was right in his warning. "[15], Individualism is another common theme that London portrays in the story. Nature" is one of the themes present in this short story. London foreshadows the death of the man early in the story, so it is not a surprise that the man dies and closer to the end, he recalls the cold and the old timer as he accepts his fate. [4] The man's interactions in this relationship are how the reader discovers the man's personality and character. Otherwise, it would dig itself into the snow and find shelter from the cold air. London's use of relaxing words dissuades the reader from feeling a great deal of sympathy for the man, as the death is merciful and graciously anticipated, rather than sad. In contrast to more dramatic depictions of death, London's depiction reveals death as a peaceful escape from tumult and pain. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Stupidity and arrogance are personified in the story's protagonist. Instant downloads of all 1377 LitChart PDFs (including To Build a Fire). The protagonist underestimates the harsh conditions and slowly begins to freeze to death. [10] Based on instincts, the dog knew that it was too cold to travel in the snow. He slips into unconsciousness and dies of hypothermia. The protagonist decides to face the brutally cold temperatures of the Yukon Territory, despite being warned by an older man.

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