What are Heroes?
A hero is someone who possess valor, capability, and captures the admiration of others through courageous deeds and noble traits; the main character in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London lacks all of these characteristics. The man makes many rookie errs throughout the short story and utilizes numerous tips from an old timer from Sulphur creek to try and fix them, he is grateful to the old timer, save for when he believes he is no longer in danger. After building a successful fire rather than thank the old timer he says to himself “well, here he [is]; he [has] had the accident; he [is] alone; and he [saves] himself” (pg. 526). The man believes he is better than average and believing that it is him all by himself exemplifies his arrogance. The fire fails and the man is once again wet in negative fifty below weather and to survive he must do something to stay warm, his idea is rather horrid though. To save himself and his fingers the man has the wild idea to “kill the dog and bury his hands in the warm body until numbness [goes] out of them” (pg, 530). When the man has to choose between his life and another he chooses to save himself essentially proving that he is not a hero, but rather a scoundrel. After all else the man merely surrenders his life, gives up, and decides to die in the least painful way possible. The man thinks it would be a good idea “to sleep to death” his intention is for it to be “like taking an anesthetic” (pg 533). Hero’s do not give up or take the easy way out; the man is a coward for just handing in his life in the manner in which he did. The man in Jack London’s story never reaches a heroic state; he is a normal man that makes a few mistakes and pays dearly for them.
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