Naturalism Essay

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Both, Jack London’s, “To Build a Fire” and Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage are stories written about naturalism and survival. In both, nature has no concern for those wandering through it and the forces are beyond their control. Survival is also seen in both stories, but in “To Build a Fire” the man does not survive and nature gets the best of him. In The Red Badge of Courage, nature helps shape the youth into the man, which he has aspired to be.

Naturalism is very evident in London’s “To Build a Fire”. The entire story happens in the everlasting realm of nature. The man is traveling through the frozen land and does not take the advice of an “old-timer”. Nature has no concern for the man or his well-being. Elements of naturalism are evident from the first lines of the story. “Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray”, the narrator begins the story showing how unpleasant nature can be and that it doesn’t think of anyone. Nature continues on its own path, disregarding what goes on. The man believes that he can outsmart nature and tries to make it to camp all alone in fifty below freezing temperature. He is proud and believes he will not need a partner, but because of the struggles he faces with nature he does not survive and nature demonstrates that there is no way to throw it off its course.

The element of survival is also demonstrated in “To Build a Fire”. It is far below freezing temperatures, and the man believes he has the experience to make it on his own. The old timer has told him many times that it is unwise to travel alone but he does not take his advice. He decides that he would be alright on his own with the dog. He does not have the proper tools or equipment to make it to camp. Nature does not pity him when he begins his demise. Nature only allows survival of the fittest and because the man was not properly prepared, he does not survive.

Just like “To Build a Fire”, The Red Badge of Courage has many examples of...
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