To Build a Fire

Topics: Temperature, Hypothermia, Cold Pages: 3 (1110 words) Published: December 4, 2006
"His Last Resort"

In the short story "To Build a Fire," by Jack London, a newcomer crosses the treacherous Alaskan Yukon during the time of the gold rush, in a search to seek great fortune. Unfortunately, his failure to heed to the experienced old timer, as well his lack of knowledge resulted in him being unaware of the danger that faced him from within his surroundings. Thus, the theme of survival is conveyed through setting, sensory detail and characterization. Fifty degree below weather in the frozen, harsh Alaskan wilderness demonstrates the desperate fight and struggle for survival. The extreme conditions the newcomer faced was no place to venture without the experience and knowledge of the Yukon's harsh environment. Yet the man was warned by the old timer never to travel alone, despite this, he journeys out to meet friends at the camp. The man came unprepared with not enough gear for continued existence. He brought only a lunch wrapped in a handkerchief, as well as a pack of matches. The path he was on was the main trail leading south five hundred miles to Dawson. Walking countless miles along the hairline path of frozen ice, he looks out in every direction, only to see the sight of the white unbroken snowfall. Living life in these conditions was very scarce, therefore, only such a fool should travel through alone. The air was glacial, for that reason the man knew that the temperature must have been falling. "Undoubtedly, it was colder then fifty below. How much colder he did not know. He knew at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow but this spittle had crackled in the air" (418). The man had known that at 50 degrees below, the spittle would crackle in the snow; therefore, he should have realized it was too cold to be in those conditions unaccompanied. The fact that the spittle cracks in the air before touching the ground indicates that it's freezing on the impact of the air meaning it is even colder then 70 below. This exemplifies the extreme danger...
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