Summary: To Build a Fire by Jack London

Pages: 3 (968 words) Published: September 26, 2013
Short Story Passage Response

To Build A Fire – Jack London

Full of vivid descriptions and hidden meanings, it’s hard to grasp the underlying themes after a first read. So far I understand that a man took on the foolhardy task of travelling alone across the Klondike in such extreme temperatures. The man, accompanied by a wolf, appeared to have survival instincts and a mentality keen enough to make the seemingly impossible journey. Unfortunately, because of the human nature specifically, the man ran into a number of obstacles he couldn’t overcome and succumbed to the cold, unable to reach his boys at the camp.

Goes from focusing on his destination and how to get there, and how to survive.

What (Themes):
1) Survival in the Wilderness
2) Individual vs. Nature
3) Death

There was plenty of comparison and irony between the man and the wolf, which highlighted, I think, a number of themes in this short story. The man and the dog were unnamed.

Playing off the title, maybe one message of the author is that we shouldn’t take such simple things and our basic necessities for granted.

How (Literary Devices):
In general Jack London includes many literary devices, notably metaphors and foreshadowing in his works to clearly and directly portray the “what” aspect of the story.

In the first paragraph London compares the sun to happiness, and as mentioned multiple times, the main character in the story had not seen the sun for a number of days now. There is much compare and contrast not just between the man and the wolf, but also in imagery. In the second paragraph the white snow and the dark, curving, and mysterious trail contrast each other.


Survival in the Wilderness
Early in the story, it becomes clear that the odds are against the man’s chances of surviving in the Klondike wilderness. He is a chechaquo, or newcomer to the region, and has never before experienced its extreme winters. Further, he is...
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