To Build a Fire

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Jack London is one of the greatest American authors of all time, and more specifically one of the greatest Regionalism literature. He short story “To Build a Fire” displays many of the characteristics of this subgenre of Realism. There is a strong emphasis on the harshness of nature to man and how man must fight to survive and the main character is of a lower class. Also there is a simple language that is realistic to the characters and setting. These characteristics combine to create one of the best works of Regionalism literature from American, and simply a great short story.

Primarily, Regionalism has a focus on the setting, as that is the most important part of this genre of literature (Anderson). “To Build a Fire” opens with a description of a man traveling on the main Yukon trail (London 603). This description is very vivid to create and image and to allow the reader to understand the circumstance that the character is involved in. Throughout the rest of the story, the descriptions of the weather and conditions remain vivid and truly create an image of an unforgiving terrain that the man must traverse.

For most Regionalism literature, the protagonist of the story is an average, middle-class hero rather than some sort of super, extraordinary character (Anderson). This is just the case with the story of “To Build a Fire” as the protagonist is quite the common man. Clearly the man is not an expert on traveling on the trail, but quite the opposite. He has some knowledge of survival, but to no extent is he some sort of nature man that could survive under any conditions. The man states that he pays no attention to the frost bite that has began to develop on his extremities and on his mouth from the tobacco juice (London 605). He lacks natural survival instincts that could have saved his life, but as a common man he does not really know what to do in his situation.
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