To build a fire is a short story written by Jack London. It is a story about an individual’s choice. The main character’s self-centeredness overcomes him, as he tries to survive the wintery weather in his travel in the Yukon Trail. He made a choice of ignoring the weather warnings, which evidenced danger in his journey. There were warnings like the absence of fellow travelers due to the cold season, but his egoism made him still embark on the journey alone, despite the warnings.
He ignores the deathly cold temperature, while the dog whines and whimpers due to the extreme cold.” (London 2) The miner is warned not to travel in the extreme cold, but he ignores the warnings and travels anyway. “The protagonist eventually meets his demise because of his decision.” (London 12) Some Critics argue that the protagonist meets death because he panics because his inability to start a fire and find shelter. They feel that in his desperation for warmth he loses hope and self control. The man ponders on ideas for w... ... middle of paper ... ...nation. (Short Story Criticism) The cause of the protagonist harsh adventure begins because of his over confidence in him.
However, just as "there was no keen intimacy between the dog and the man"(152) the dog would be the protagonist constant companion until the man's death. The man had to accept that the "fire provider had failed"(156) when he did not have control of his frozen fingers or the building of the fire. Nature had defeated him. The id in the protagonist wanted to kill the dog to keep himself warm. But the ego along with the man's inability to "neither draw nor hold his sheath knife"(157) caused him not to be able to kill the dog.
In “To Build a Fire” the man is facing freezing temperatures and in “Sea Devil” the man is being pulled and swept along by a Manta Ray. These stories illustrate that to survive you need to always be thinking of what to do and know that every small decision can have huge effects. Two types of survival used were mental and physical; characters in both these stories have to overcome mental and physical challenges. In “To Build a Fire” it shows how not to survive and to lead to one’s demise. One example of this is that the man is very ignorant to his surroundings and how they can contribute to his survival or demise.
London wrote that the cold "did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold. "(p.1745) At first when the man started his journey to the camp, he felt certain that he could make it back to camp before dinner. As the trip progressed, the man made mistake after mistake that sealed his fate. The man's first mistake was to step into a pool of water and soak his legs to the knees. This blunder forced the man to build a fire to dry his wet socks and shoes so his feet would not freeze and become frostbitten.
Unfortunately for the man, he slipped into the icy water which instantly caused his legs and feet to turn into ice. Getting a fire started is his only option to save him. He made two attempts to build a fire, but the weather condition and the snow made it impossible. The cold caused excruciating ache and throbbing pain in his fingers, hands, and feet and he is unable to start another fire because of his hands becoming numb and with the inability to move them. Russell Hillier in Crystal Beards and Dantean Influence in Jack London 's "to Build a Fire (II) states “In his last ditch effort to destroy man 's best friend and use its very lifeblood and vital warmth in order to save his own skin”.
When Sam and Eric let the fire burn out for a second time when they were running from the beast. They left their only chance of rescue because of fear. Ralph can’t keep all the boys aligned just like the fire. Ralph tries to be but doesn’t have power over everyone on the island. He is a symbol of fire when it is weak because of the other elements surrounding
In order for the dog to survive and the man to die, the dog required instinct, of which the man lacked. The man did acquire reason and observance but not good enough to allow him to reach his goal makes it subordinate to instinct. In the harsh environment of Yukon, Alaska, it determined what types of individuals both the man and dog were by pushing their limits. It is noticeable that the man has barely any control over his environment due to that he attempts to build a fire but fails at all times. The first time he builds his fire under the spruce trees, he does not evaluate the possibility of the snow falling from the tree onto the fire causing the fire to extinguish.
Even though the miner in “To Build a Fire” eventually panics after being unable to start a fire, he struggles in the wilderness of the Yukon Territory and ultimately finds his death due to ignorance caused by a lack intuition and imagination. Contrary to the idea of the miner dieing because of lack of intuition and imagination, critics say that he dies because of panic (Short Story Criticism). The theory of the miner dieing because of panic is faulty. Evidence shows that the miner panics, but he does not do so until the end of the story. At the beginning of his journey the miner shows ... ... middle of paper ... ...he danger of the journey, but the man is unaware of the harshness of the environment and continues onward in the journey.
London has managed to present the downfall of the man’s well-being. As the man gets worse and his dog is no longer wanting to be in his company, the more the old man’s advice is brought up. Further in the story the man’s optimism is beginning to disperse, and he decides at one point after trying so hard will not make it to the camp. He later dies under a tree, and the dog later goes away from him, and heads to the camp alone. This story is a representation of regret and troubled events that this man endures because of his stubbornness.