Nature in Jack London´s To Build a Fire

Nature in Jack London´s To Build a Fire

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People always tell you to listen to your gut. However, all goes wrong for the poor character in Jack London’s (1876-1916) To Build a Fire when he wants to trust his gut. In the story, a mountain man explains to him how dangerous it is to venture out alone in incredibly freezing circumstances. Being the confident man that he is, he did not listen to the advice. It soon turns into a story of a man’s lonely road to try to survive. He finds a silent companion that cannot seem to help him. He then falls into a soft spot and gets wet to the knees. He knew he was in danger and he had to get a fire together fast. However, more bad luck came his way when we were building a fire and snow fell on it. He then had to hurry to build a new one, however it was to no avail. His fingers were to cold to rebuild a fire, so there was nothing that he could do. There are three reasons why the theme that nature is more powerful that sometimes assumed works so well in Jack London’s To Build a Fire.
The first reason that they theme of human versus nature works so well in Jack London’s To Build a Fire, is because of the setting. There are not very many people that would jump at the idea to be alone in the woods in well below freezing temperatures. However the character in this story does not seem to have much of a problem with it. He is very confident in his abilities to handle to outdoors, with no other companions. Except for one companion that he meets along the way, a dog. The dog is very silent and just goes along and watches the man try to survive when the worst happens. The man was earlier warned by an old timer how nature can make things more difficult. However, he did not listen to the man and later learned throughout the story that was a terrible mistake. The setting in the story was something that not people come into contact with. “But the circulation of wet and freeing feet cannot be restored by running when it is seventy-five below.” (Page 605) Many people can easily die when it is that cold outside, making the setting of the story a problem that needed to be over come.

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The character also showed how the character could play a major role in human and nature interactions in Jack London’s To Build a Fire. In the story, there was only one character, other than a dog, that the author focused on. He never gave that character a name, and he never gave the character’s friends a name. However even without that information you could tell that the character was a very stubborn confident man. Too confident, that he did not listen to advice given to him. This actually becomes his downfall in the story. “The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.” (Page 596) This is incredibly dangerous, because nature in this story is a pain in the behind. However, because the man was stubborn, he did not listen to this warning and it ended up taking his life.
The plot in Jack London’s story, To Build a Fire shows a lot about human and nature interaction. Nobody in the story knew what was happening until it happened. Everything was so sudden; that you could not at first believe it was happening. “And then it happened. At a place where there were no signs, where the soft, unbroken snow seemed to advertise solidity beneath, the man broke through.” (Page 603) This happened right after he ate his lunch, so nobody was expected anything. There was also very good use of irony in the story. It started off by giving the warning signs of what would happened, but the character assuring you that it would not. When it suddenly did, it became obvious that there was irony in the story. In fact, the outline of the story completely unraveled. However, it did not say enough to be able to tell what was going to happen. It gave a great hint, but it still kept you guessing all the way until the end. One minute the man was safe, and then suddenly the plot line was switched around and he was in grave danger.
This story makes it very clear that nature can be much more powerful than anybody could ever expect. It keeps you guessing, because you can never be sure of what is ahead. The setting was absolutely perfect in showing this theme. Nobody could survive a place like that all alone. Also, the character was so confident in his abilities, when in fact he should not have over estimated nature and should have kept an eye open. Finally, it is clear that the plot of the story was designed to not be predictable. The story changed up so many times that the readers were unable to be unable to know exactly what was going to happen.

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