"To Build a Fire" by Jack London Review

Topics: Protagonist, Fiction, Character Pages: 3 (891 words) Published: August 28, 2013
Rachel Foxworth

An Extremely Icy Examination

What would you do if you had to trek across the frozen tundra of Alaska, in weather that was seventy-five degrees below zero? In “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, a fictional short story, a man has to go through just that, with only a dog, some matches and a can of biscuits to help him through. As the man continues his journey, going off the designated trail, various parts of his body begin to freeze in his desperate attempt to reach his boys. Unfortunately, what could have been an exciting adventure, was ruined by an unrealistic struggle, useless, meaningless facts, and disappointing characters. “To Build a Fire” is unrealistic because I do not believe that any sane person would have gone out in such extreme conditions, without researching thoroughly, procuring the right supplies, and being properly dressed. Yet this nameless man plummets into the Alaskan wilderness, not even sticking to the trail, without knowing how cold it was. The man had no idea that it was not fifty degrees below zero, but a remarkable seventy-five degrees below. The boys, as he refers to the men he was to meet, had already made it safely across before him. Instead of traveling with “the boys”, against the only advice he was given, the man traveled alone, with a dog as his only companion. In addition to that, we don’t even know who these boys are, and what his motivation is, or what connection he has to them. Over and over again the story reminds us of how the man had never experienced Alaska like this before, and that he is new to the frigid weather. When going on a dangerous hike like his, the sensible thing to do is to research and be fully prepared, especially if it is unfamiliar, but, unfortunately for his sake, this man did not even wear a scarf. The man had brought only a few matches with him, and was too ignorant to see how cold it was going to be. Ignorance unfortunately can have a bitter price....
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