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Jack London's To Build A Fire Analysis

1395 words - 6 pages

In Jack London's To Build a Fire the setting of the short story plays a significant role. Jack London uses specific techniques to establish the atmosphere and tone of the story. By introducing his readers to the setting, London prepares them for a tone that is depressed and fear-provoking. Isolated by an environment of frigid weather and doom, the author shows us how the main character of the story is completely unaware of his surroundings. The only world the man is actually accustomed to is the world he has created for himself. Since many of us have never been exposed to such a harsh climate, London's account that the environment is the determining factor of his survival paints an accurate ...view middle of the document...

" He is able to tolerate the troublesome temperatures and climate he is surrounded by, he never attempts to face monster within him. Facing what he would do if the inevitable were to happen is this mans worst fear. This fear causes the man to become selfish, only focusing on the actions and thoughts that are pleasurable to him. The man's ignorance to his surroundings and self-indulgence foreshadows a possible downfall.London provides us with subconscious hints that lead the reader to believe that the man will suffer a tragedy in the end of the story. Only relying on his previous experiences causes the man to be a disadvantage to his dog. A dog by nature is an animal that has the natural gift of instinct. Under these bitter conditions, the dog was capable of survival because of those instincts. The dog follows the man throughout his ill faded journey, but after the man succumbs to the weather, the husky relies upon his instincts to survive. Being placed in this type of environment is the main conflict of the story for both the main character and the dog.Relying only on his judgment, the man can not prepare to prevent a disaster from occurring. London's constant focus on the how the environment affected the man and his reaction to being unable to survive like his dog gives the reader certain hints. At this point London has already given an insight to the conclusion of the story. The theme of London's 'To Build a Fire' is how we should all take heed to modern knowledge and learned behavior has its benefits, but our primal instincts should never have ignored. The man in the story had lots of knowledge but neglected to pay attention to his 'sixth sense.' The dog on the other hand, followed as long as he could but then let his instincts carry him to safety. We can never have enough knowledge to replace the survival skill that nature has provided us.Lured in by the plot of the story the reader keeps on reading, waiting in anticipation of the danger of the climate to overcome the man. "On the other hand, there was no keen intimacy between the dog and the man. The one was the toil slave of the other, and the only caresses it had ever received were the caresses of the whip lash and of harsh and menacing throat sounds that threatened the whip lash." Although the dog was obviously anxious, he was unconcerned with the safety of the man. If the man was to come upon serious danger, the dog would not be willing to help him. Not being concerned with anything somewhat inventive, the man put himself in a position to anticipate death. His selfishness and ignorance keeps him in a situation of danger and disaster.The climax of the story is when the man falls through the ice, wetting...

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