Discuss Naturalism and the Importance of the Dog to Understand the Theme in "To Build a Fire"

Topics: Nature, Fiction, Jack London Pages: 2 (895 words) Published: April 17, 2013
Chad Mead
April 5, 2013
ENGL-227 World Fiction
Discuss Naturalism and the Importance of the Dog to Understand the Theme. The author of this short story is none other than Jack London. One of the most influential novelists of his age, Jack London was the author who wrote “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”. Both books were excellent and even share some similarities with the story, “To Build a Fire”, which is the story we are going to discuss. “To Build a Fire” is a story of a man fighting the harsh weather of the Yukon with only his dog, where he is ultimately defeated by it. This story has a strong Naturalistic presence in it, and shows it primarily through the means of the man’s dog. Through this style of writing, we begin to understand that this story is about survival in the wilderness using one’s instinct rather than sheer will. Naturalism is a type of writing style that is direct, no sugarcoated words, and shows us the harsh realities of daily life. Jack London used naturalism, the most realistic literary movement, to show how violent and uncaring nature really is, and how no matter what you do- nature will always be there. This is where the dog comes in as naturalism’s main contributor. The first time the dog is introduced in this story, it was described as submissive yet questionable, in regards to the man’s unwonted actions towards not building a fire or not finding shelter from the cold. The reason the author gives us as to why the dog is questionable is because “the brute had its instinct.” (Jack London 655). Just from that one line the author gave, it showed that the dog and the man would have two contrasting roles to play in his story. The dog embodies pure instinct, who only wants to survive the harsh, cold weather by lying next to a fire or in a shelter. The man, adversely, shows us willpower because he does not wish to build a fire or find a shelter, but only seeks to push through the cold weather to get to his camp and “The Boys”. This...
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