Preview

Jack London's "To Build a Fire"

Better Essays
Open Document
Open Document
1636 Words
Grammar
Grammar
Plagiarism
Plagiarism
Writing
Writing
Score
Score
Jack London's "To Build a Fire"
Brenton Gross
October 11, 2012
Paper 3

Central Idea, Characterization, Setting and Conflict for “To Build A Fire” In Jack London’s short story, “To Build A Fire,” he takes readers to the backwoods of the Yukon Trail where a lone man and his dog are out hiking through the backcountry along the creek. The day is extremely cold, but the temperature does not seem to hinder this man, who is a newcomer to the Yukon Territory. Even though other hikers native to the area try to warn the man of the foolishness of hiking alone in these conditions, the man turns a deaf ear to the warnings and continues about his way. After meeting obstacle after obstacle, the man determines that maybe the old native really did know what he was talking about after all. Heeding the warnings too late, the man fights valiantly to save his life against the forces of nature that he faces with only a dog by his side for companionship. London’s Central Idea is that pride and arrogance often lead to disastrous results. “To Build A Fire” has one main character, the unnamed male hiker in the story. London tells the story from the omniscient point of view, which allows the reader access to all of the character’s thoughts and feelings as he goes along his hike. He is a man new to the area, with only enough knowledge about the conditions there to be truly dangerous. London describes the man as being “…quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances.” What makes him even more dangerous is the fact that he’s overly confident in his own abilities. He becomes confident of the good time that he’s making along the trail, instead of focusing on paying attention to the dangers that Nature can have in store along such paths. Instead of listening to what the old native man in the story has to offer him in terms of advice for how to survive along the Yukon Trail, the man essentially scoffs at the old man as he “…laughed at him…” and goes about his business in his

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Jack Londons “To Build A Fire,” takes place on a trail in the Yukon. This setting is vital to the story because nature, the cold and the snow become the main character’s worst enemy. The first two paragraphs are devoted to the story's setting and forthcoming action. It is clear that it is mid-winter in the Arctic during a cold snap, that the man is traveling alone, and that he is about to veer from the established route to his destination ("the main trail" along the Yukon) to take a seldom used but shorter trail across country. The day is clear, but at this latitude and…

    • 1471 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Through setting, plot, and characterization, London's "To Build A Fire"� gives the reader a dramatic description of life and conveys a message that humans need to be social in order to survive. London sets an average, middle-aged logger on a deserted Yukon trail during the wintry season where the temperature is seventy-five degrees below zero. The logger, accompanied only by his husky, is traveling to a location ten miles away in order to meet his companions. The man is placed in this Yukon environment in order to symbolize that in this cold, cruel world one must learn to benefit from others.…

    • 1248 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The arctic: a cold, barren, snowy wasteland that almost no one can survive. This landscape could lead to an inevitable end for anyone who tries to conquer it, especially alone. This situation is brought to light through the short story, To Build A Fire by Jack London. In this tale, an unnamed man makes an attempt to go through the snowy setting of Alaska during the freezing season of winter with only a dog by his side. Throughout the book, London builds up suspense and makes people uncertain about how the book will end. However, through the foreshadowing of the rising actions, climax, and repeating details, the inevitable end can be clearly seen.…

    • 1220 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In To Build a Fire, an anonymous dog and man go through the Yukon’s dangerous climate. The main character is a man that doesn't pay much attention to the temperature, or how these factors will affect him. On the other hand the dog plays a vital part of the story, because the dog later questions the man's movements, due to his instincts.…

    • 192 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The man also does not heed the warnings of an old timer in any sense of the matter and states that he “had laughed at him at the time” (London 823) and he even decides that it would be okay to travel in below freezing weather with no travelling partner even though the old timer stated “after fifty below, a man should travel with a partner” (London 826). Much like the man in the poem, the short story answers the desires the man has for survival and practically destroys all hope that he has for making it through the horrendous conditions, but his determinism does not falter and he pursues more attempts at trying to prolong his life, even if it involves “his flesh burning… still he endured it” (London 826). Though his efforts bare no results and he ends up perishing in the end, the journey he takes and the necessity of survival is what makes the poem and the short story relatable. It is through the scenes in “To Build a Fire” that the themes of survival and determinism are accurately portrayed, and the story shows how the thesis of the poem is able to manifest itself in this piece of realistic…

    • 888 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    As the chilled winter snow stretches miles past the destination of the left fork of Henderson Creek, the protagonist’s body feels numb from head to toe. The man and his dog walk miles in the bitter cold trying to stay alive. Walking aside from the main Yukon trail in the cold winter midday, without the sun beating down giving the protagonist heat, he feels frozen as if he has not seen the sun in days. Jack London, the author of To Build A Fire, goes into immense detail throughout the story to draw his readers into the setting of the crisp winter chill. London’s vast description of the environment allows his readers to picture every single object throughout the mountains as if the reader was experiencing the exact situation.…

    • 739 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    “To Build a Fire” is a story about one character, the man. This man throughout the story doesn’t say one word. He is pretty calm throughout the story. The main man or the only man for that matter seems to be a hard working man but is lacking in imagination. I believe this man has no imagination because he doesn’t think he needs one.…

    • 408 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The main character stupidly travels across the Alaskan tundra after an old wise man told him that, “…no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below” (London 132). The Yukon man did not listen. He thought he was better than the advice given, just as I had with my mother. For example the man gets his feet wet while crossing a soft patch of ice, yet he is able to start a fire to stave off frost bite. While the fire was warming the man up, he thinks back to the warning the old man told him of not traveling alone across the tundra. The traveler laughed at the flashback of the old man’s warning stating that, “old-timers were rather womanish” (132).That is until, the wind blows and drops enough snow on his fire that it extinguishes. Try as he might he never gave up trying to start another fire and every attempt failed because it was too cold. Had he had another person with him he could have had some help. He ultimately paid the price of not listening to critical advice and died a cold and slow death with his last words being ““You were right old hoss; you were right’”. Sometimes it pays to listen to good advice it could mean life or death. Unfortunately there are people like the traveler and myself who have to learn the hard way for us to truly…

    • 749 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Man vs Nature is a theme London uses in two of his stories, where his characters have to survive the hard weather conditions the Arctic landscape presents and most importantly, how to attempt to face death in extreme cases. In Jack London´s To Build a Fire and The Law of Life, the protagonists of the two stories develop a survival behavior that increases as we read, leaving the stories in suspense until the end.…

    • 1537 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    In Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”, the man’s initial mistakes come, because he is too prideful and over confident in himself. In the end his lack of experience costs him, his life. Before the man sets off on his journey, he ignores the old timer on Sulphur Creek when he mentioned “how cold it got sometimes in the country”(6). Despite what the old timer said, the man still sets out on the journey, ill prepared for the harsh weather. In the beginning, the man “did not know cold” and refused to turn back and return to the warmer environment (9). On the other hand, the dog felt the brisk weather and decided “it was the time to lie in a hole in the snow and to wait for this awful cold to stop” (9). The man does not take the cold seriously and feels…

    • 327 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    As you read "To Build a Fire" you can't help but feel that the main character is ignorant. He is willing to sacrifice his life as well as his dogs life just to get to the camp of his friends. Before he leaves the safety of his current camp an old timer, who is seasoned to this kind of weather, tells him it is a bad idea to travel. And rather than listen to the old timers…

    • 811 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Imagine this you are stuck in the alaskan tundra with only your dog and a piece of flint. Well this is what our main character has to deal with in the story “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. In “To Build a Fire” Jack London uses a lot of different conflicts to illustrate the idea of naturalism. One of the first conflicts in the story is not prevalent, but a nuisance nonetheless.…

    • 393 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The grating cold and bleak surroundings “made no impression on the man” (6) while the dog became “depressed by the tremendous cold” (7), painting the man as a figure unaware of the severe conditions, arrogant and daunting. He viewed the conditions as “cold and uncomfortable, and that was all” (6), which gave him a tough aspect of character. However, his “tough” qualities did not protect him from nature’s formidable power over his fate. These characteristics illustrate a contrast between the state of the man and the state of nature. The animal also provides a comparison of the ignorance of humans’ instinct in comparison to the animal who understands the ferocity of nature. The man was overconfident and underestimated strength and ability of his environment, while the dog recognized this, and the danger of it. Allowing the environment to kill the man indicates that his instincts were inferior to that of the dog’s, as the animal survived the same harsh surroundings of the brutal Yukon. “The brute had its instinct” (7) and “its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man” (7), because the man was “not much given to thinking”, displaying his obvious ignorance about the ways of nature and how the animal’s instincts trumped his own. Although the man was “keenly observant” (8), he was woefully inept at survival and…

    • 747 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Build A Fire

    • 152 Words
    • 1 Page

    The realistic fictional short story “To build a fire” by Jack London chronicles the adventure of a man in the klondike hiking to a camp to meet his companions. It is through this adventure that london communicates the theme is take advice from the older people. He went out to despite advice and didn’t listen to the old timer, he fell threw the ice and had to stop and take his shoes off and built a fire but the fire goes out from snow falling off tree branches after pulling branches off to built the fire up. Then he failed to make another fire because his hands were frozen shut. So than he tried to kill the dog for warmth to warm his body up. But fails again and then he dies of hypothemia. He got over smarted by…

    • 152 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    To Build a Fire

    • 818 Words
    • 4 Pages

    The short story “To Build a Fire” by Jack London is a short story about a man traveling along the Yukon River in the bitter winter weather. While warned against traveling alone in the frigid cold, he travels out to meet his companions at a remote camp many miles away, with only his native Husky dog. Overcome by mother nature, he eventually dies along the way, leaving his dog to complete the journey alone. This story displays how the forces of nature can surprisingly overwhelm even the most confident of men.…

    • 818 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays