To Build a Fire

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To Build a Fire

The short story "To build a Fire" by Jack London, tells about the relationship between man and nature. The story takes place in the Yukon during one of the long night. The main character who is unnamed travels with a dog along a small trail to a mining camp. The man leaves against the advice of a local and after a short time realizes that he should have waited. The temperature is extremely cold because the mans spit freezes before it hits the ground. The main obstacle of his journey is the many covered springs that mean death to whoever falls into them. The man sends his dog in front of him to make sure that the trail is safe. Eventually the dog falls into one of the springs and gets his paws wet. Immediate, acting solely of instinct, the dog begins to chew the ice off of his feet. Further down the trail a similar incident happens, but this time the man falls into the spring. In order to keep his feet from freezing he has to build a fire. The first attempt to build a fire is flawed by the location the man chose under a tree. After the man is unable to light a second fire because of the loss of dexterity in his fingers, he becomes panicked and blindly runs, until totally exhausted, and dies. Throughout the story the mood gives the impression of extreme cold, and the tone is ironic. Through the actions of the main character, Jack London shows that man must be humble to nature.

The main character in the story remains nameless because he isn't supposed to represent and specific person. Jack London did this on purpose because in his first version of the story the man does have a name. The man represents the fraction of society that doesn't respect nature. He doesn't understand the power of nature because he is oblivious to it. On the other hand the dog was "told a truer tale than that was told to the man by the man's judgement." The man "did not know cold. Possibly all the generations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of real...
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