Skip Nav

Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” -Analysis Essay

Introduction

❶As You Like It.

Quotes By Topic

How to cite this page
Not what you're looking for?
What are You Studying?

We can never have enough knowledge to replace the survival skill that nature has provided us. Lured in by the plot of the story the reader keeps on reading, waiting in anticipation of the danger of the climate to overcome the man. The one was the toil slave of the other, and the only caresses it had ever received were the caresses of the whip lash and of harsh and menacing throat sounds that threatened the whip lash. If the man was to come upon serious danger, the dog would not be willing to help him.

Not being concerned with anything somewhat inventive, the man put himself in a position to anticipate death. The climax of the story is when the man falls through the ice, wetting himself up to his knees. The man ignorance once again caused him to be unprepared for this kind of situation.

The man never took the proper precautions because he never thought of how to cope with a deadly situation. The only help he was given for a similar situation was the advice of an old timer from Sulphur Creek. Viciously, the man attempted to stop his appendages from freezing, but was unsuccessful as the dog watched.

The main character changes from an enthusiastic pioneer to a sad and desperate man. Using characterization, London is able to present why certain people are alive at the end and how one benefits from being social. The boys at camp are also alive because they are together and can benefit from each other.

Unlike the other characters, London has the man die at the end of the story to illustrate that he dies because of his arrogance in his ability to travel alone. If the man travels with a companion or a companion of equal instinct, he can benefit from him and possibly return safely to camp. In the opening paragraph London presents us with a scene that is gloomy, depressing, and ominous, these elements foreshadow an outcome that will be fatal to our protagonist.

Accessed September 14, Leave your email and we will send you an example after 24 hours If you contact us after hours, we'll get back to you in 24 hours or less. How to cite this page Choose cite format: The Law of LIfe.

Fiction , Jack London How about make it original? Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. As the man dies in the snow and cold, the dog senses the man's fate, leaves the cadaver, and travels to camp safely. While some critics maintain that the protagonist of the story dies due to a lack of intuition or imagination, unable to conceive of the possibility of his own death, others assert that he dies as a result of panic and the failure of his rational faculties.

The protagonist's dangerous expedition—taken against the advice of experienced prospectors—and his superciliousness in assuming he will prevail are regarded as important themes in the story. Some critics assert that London's moral is that by using reason instead of intuition, modern man has allowed his primal instincts to atrophy.

The theme of rebirth is also suggested, as the man realizes his mistakes and accepts his death with dignity. The repetitive nature of London's imagery and language functions to create an atmosphere of doom and loneliness. Some commentators suggest that this milieu also signals the inevitable fate of the protagonist, as the young man eventually freezes to death.

It is certainly one of most anthologized short stories produced by an American author. Some reviewers have noted that the story exhibits many of the Aristotelian concepts of tragedy. Other critics perceive the protagonist as an Everyman who is punished for his transgression of natural laws and the unwritten code of the wilderness.

A few reviewers regard the protagonist and his canine companion as archetypal characters. The dog is viewed as the foil to the young man, as the animal displays the instinct and wisdom that the man lacks.

Commentators have analyzed the significance of the symbolism in the setting, particularly the whiteness of the landscape and the absence of sunlight. The story has also been praised for its vivid narrative, its graphic description of physical action, and it dramatic sense of irony.

What merit editors find in it, I can only speculate; but I imagine that it is admired as a fine example of a suspenseful story with a strong theme presented in vivid, realistic detail. All this, of course, it is; and it is interesting to recall in this connection that, aside from the death of the protagonist, the story treats of precisely the range of experience that London himself had had in the northland.

Valid as it is, however, an interpretation which halts at the careful contrivance of suspense, a strong theme—by which is meant, I suppose, the primitive struggle for survival—and precise, realistic details cannot explain the appeal of the story, which, like all serious fiction, hints at a depth and richness of meaning below the level of literal narration.

To put the discussion into context, let me summarize the story even if its great popularity guarantees that most readers are familiar with it. A man, whose name is not given, is traveling alone, except for an almost wild dog as companion, in the far north in the dead of winter. Although aware of the dangers of the journey, the man is confident. He is alert and careful; but even so he accidentally breaks through the surface of a frozen stream and gets his feet wet.

When he fails in his attempts to build a fire to dry himself, he dies. His wolf-dog companion leaves the body to seek food and warmth with the dead man's companions waiting in camp.

The fable unfolds as a journey taken in the face of serious danger in which the conflicts between man and nature and between man and dog provide the drama. But I wish to consider here the journey itself, presented in the first sentence of the story in a passage that is both rhetorically impressive and charged with implication:.

Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earthbank, where a dim and little-traveled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland. The very rhythms of the passage reinforce the meaning. The journey thus brilliantly announced is, as I have implied, more than a literal journey, although the hard, realistic surface of the narrative may obscure what ought to be obvious. Hence another analogue, what Maud Bodkin, after Jung, has termed the archetypal theme of rebirth, suggests itself.

For Miss Bodkin, the rebirth theme consists of a double movement—downward toward disintegration and death and upward toward redintegration and life, but life greatly enriched.

There he has experiences, including a liaison with Jees Uck, a native girl, which give him new insights and values. These he takes back to civilization where he becomes a prominent member of his society. The central character—like Neil Bonner and the Ancient Mariner—has a misconception that must be changed, for living in such ignorance is a kind of death.

Neither the analogue of Everyman nor of the archetypal rebirth quite fits, however. The man, unlike Everyman, undergoes no redemption; nor, like Neil Bonner and the Ancient Mariner, does he return to civilization changed by the intensity and significance of his experience. He does not even have a moment of illumination as he dies. Before turning to a discussion of the characters, I must call attention to several details of the setting that seem to me symbolic.

When the strong nations assume that man's only true work is to break through frontiers, they also assume that the courage it takes is the only one that validates existence. Because nature seems to taunt us with our limitations, she must be beaten, and no one but a coward would accept without a struggle His purse exhausted after a year at the University of California, in London joined the second wave of fortune-hunters in the Klondike.

Navigate Guide

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

To Build a Fire by Jack London - “To Build a Fire” written by Jack London can truly be considered as a work of art. With themes anyone can relate to, such as survival and man versus nature, it is a great short story for anyone looking for something to read.

Privacy FAQs

Bowen, James K. "Jack London's 'To Build a Fire': Epistemology and the White Wilderness." Western American Literature 5. (): Labor, Earle and Hendricks, King. "Jack London's Twice-Told Tale." Studies in Short Fiction 4. (): London, Jack. "To Build a Fire." The Norton book of American short stories. Ed.

About Our Ads

Essays and criticism on Jack London's To Build a Fire - To Build a Fire, Jack London. To Build a Fire by Jack London Essay Words | 4 Pages To Build a Fire by Jack London The short story "To build a Fire" by Jack London, tells about the relationship between man and nature.

Cookie Info

To Build a Fire literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of To Build a Fire. "To Build a Fire," by Jack London, is a short story that depicts a man journeying through the Yukon, who due to his inexperience, as well as a lack of respect for the environment, encounters some obstacles that lead to his eventual death.