To Build a Fire

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In 1876, Jack London was born in the city of San Francisco. “He wrote passionately and prolifically about the great questions of life and death, the struggle to survive with dignity and integrity, and he wove these elemental ideas into stories of high adventure based on his own firsthand at sea, or in Alaska, or in the fields and factories in California.” In 1908, Jack London composed a short story, “To Build a Fire” about a man attempting to survive in his quest along the Yukon River against hazardous weather conditions. Throughout the London’s description, it is expressed how the man chooses to ignore the evidence of danger, such as the cold weather conditions and the old timer’s advice. His arrogance causes him to spiral into a downfall and face a regrettable outcome. The man’s egotistical mind overcomes the ability to think logically about his travel. Also, he thinks he is manly enough to survive on his own and that he does not need a fellow traveler. As a result, through his attempt for survival in his quest along the Yukon travel, the man’s pride and egotism causes him to ignore the warning signs, which soon brings severe consequences to his short-lived journey.

In, “To Build a Fire”, London describes how the old timer from Sulfur Creek warns the man about how cold it gets in the country. The man’s response clearly demonstrates his arrogance by laughing at the old timer. The old timer is giving the man a significant warning sign about the cold, but the man’s pride gets in the way of his trust toward the old timer. By the man’s reaction, it is as if he does not believe what the old timer is stressing to him. As a result of his reaction, the narrator implies, “that showed one must not be too sure of things” (716). The narrator’s implication suggests that the man should not be so confident in the things that he has little to no knowledge about. The man clearly has no experience for traveling in the treacherous weather conditions of the...
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