To Build a Fire

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This story compelled me to evaluate choices made by a character in a life or death situation. The significance of the words dying and death in Jack London's 1910 novel, To Build a Fire continuously expresses the man's dwindling warmth and bad luck in his journey along the Yukon trail to meet the boys at the camp. London associates dying with the man's diminishing ability to stay warm in the freezing Alaskan climate. The main character's condition slowly gets worse one level at a time finally resulting in death. The narrator informs the reader the man lacks personal experience traveling in the Yukon. The old-timer warned the man about the harsh realities of the Klondike. The confident main character thinks of the old timer as teenagers often think of their parents; he does not know what he is talking about. Along the trail, the man falls into a hidden spring and he attempts to build a fire to dry his socks and keep warm. With his wet feet quickly growing numb, he realizes he has only one chance to successfully build a fire of face the harsh realities of the Yukon at one-hundred nine degrees below freezing. Falling snow from a tree blots out the fire and the main character realizes he had just heard his own sentence of death. Jack London introduces death to the reader in this scene. The man realizes a second fire must be built without fail. The man's mind begins to run wild with thoughts of insecurity and death when the second fire fails. He remembers the story of a man who kills a steer to stay warm and then imagines himself killing his dog and crawling into the skin to warm up so he can build a fire to save himself. As the man slowly freezes, he realizes he is in serious trouble and can no longer make excuses for himself. Acknowledging he would never get to the camp and would soon be stiff and dead, he tries to clear this scary thought from his mind by running down the trail in a last effort to pump blood through his body. The climax of the...
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