Comparing the Two Versions of To Build a Fire
"I am absolutely confident that beyond the motif itself, there is no similarity of treatment whatever" (544). Jack London, writing in December 1908, was responding to an inquiry from the Richard W. Gilder, editor of Century Magazine. Gilder, having just published "To Build a Fire" in his magazine, was worried when he came across another version published 6 years earlier. London's explanation was that the first story was for boys and the new one was for men; the only similarity being the motif itself. Through careful analysis of the two stories, in light of this letter to Gilder, and another letter to Cloudesly Johns, it is apparent that although London claims no similarities (besides the motif), they definitely exist.
Before the similarities are discussed, it is necessary to look at the obvious differences that London explains are in the "treatment" (544). The 1902 version was published for boys, while the 1908 version was published for men. London explains that the motif was "not only very strong, but was very true" (ibid). It seems that he first published it for boys as a sort of educational story; teaching the youngsters about the dangers of the cold weather. Hence, after Tom Vincent learns his lesson, he makes it to camp and doesn't receive any serious damage. Later, London was worried that he had given the motif "inadequate treatment" (ibid). Therefore, he handled the motif again, this time for men, adding a dog for good measure. Since this story was meant for an older audience, topics could be brought up that weren't appropriate to be discussed in the first one: the man considered killing the dog and using his body for warmth. In addition, the most obviou...
... middle of paper ...
...story they are reading.
Jack London has written a classic short story in the 1908 version of "To Build a Fire." This is the classic story of man fighting nature. In most genres (e.g. movies, novels, short stories) the main character comes out on top, however unlikely that is. Jack London takes literary naturalism and shows the reader how unmerciful nature is. Much like Stephen Crane in "The Open Boat," in which the one of the characters dies, London doesn't buy into that "has to have a good ending" contrivance. Through analysis of two London's letters (to R.W. Gilder and Cloudesly Johns) these two versions of "To Build a Fire" come alive with new meaning. Although there are many differences on the surface, both stories use his philosophy as expressed to Johns and both teach a moral lesson, one which will not soon be forgotten: "Never travel alone."
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- A Comparison of Two Versions of Romeo and Juliet In this essay the opening sequences of the two versions of Shakespeare's disastrous love story, "Romeo and Juliet" have been compared. The traditional and conventional version, which was made in 1968 in Italy, was directed by Franco Zeffirali, and the modernized and the updated version, was made by Baz Lurhmann in 1996 and is set... [tags: Papers]
1988 words (5.7 pages)
- No one plans on or even wants to lose their life due to an unfortunate mishap. Isn’t it better to check twice and thoroughly plan ahead as opposed to finding oneself in an unfortunate situation. No wonder mothers ask so many questions; they leave no scope for misunderstanding. Jack London’s “To Build A Fire,” both 1902 and 1908 versions, cause distress in readers’ minds and make them wonder how a simple topic of surviving in the cold can turn out so horrific. A handful of alterations were made to the original version of the story; some add a completely new meaning, while others only provide slight nuances.... [tags: To Build a Fire, Jack London]
887 words (2.5 pages)
- “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. Everyone knows a dog is a man’s best friend, but what happens when it is man versus dog. When survival of the fittest kicks in, the fittest truly shows. In “To Build a Fire”, Jack London expresses various elements of literature to really get the reader involved in the story.... [tags: To Build a Fire ]
1805 words (5.2 pages)
- A Critique of Jack London's To Build a Fire Karen Rhodes analyzed to build a fire in a cultural context. He believed "London's works were written so that he could survive in a world he increasingly came to see as "red in tooth and claw""(1). It is obviously the story of a man fighting the stresses of Nature. According to Rhodes, to build a fire was drawn from the year London spent in Canada's Yukon Territory. London depicted arctic and very cold conditions throughout the story. Rhodes believed to build a fire represented London's Naturalistic Flavor.... [tags: London To Build a Fire Essays]
513 words (1.5 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. The story takes place in the Yukon during one of the long night. The main character who is unnamed travels with a dog along a small trail to a mining camp. The man leaves against the advice of a local and after a short time realizes that he should have waited. The temperature is extremely cold because the mans spit freezes before it hits the ground. The main obstacle of his journey is the many covered springs that mean death to whoever falls into them.... [tags: Jack London Build Fire Essays Papers]
972 words (2.8 pages)
- There are many authors in this world today. Some are known for classical writings of poetry, or hundreds and hundreds of books written by them. This author though was one who portrayed himself through dozens of short stories. His name is Jack London. Jack London is a writer who shows the conflict between Nature versus Man in his writings and supports this theme through his work, “To Build a Fire.” Jack was born on January 12, 1876 and died on November 22, 1916. He is best known for his nature novels depicting how nature can sometimes be so powerful that it overcomes man.... [tags: Writer Author Jack London Build Fire]
1022 words (2.9 pages)
- The Existential Theme of London’s “To Build A Fire" Jack London’s short story, “To Build a Fire,” is the tragic tale of a man who decides to travel alone through the hostile environment of the Yukon in sub-freeing temperatures and falls victim to the unrelenting and unforgiving power of nature. During his journey, the man gets his feet wet as he falls through the ice into the water of a hot spring (London 122). Because of the severity of the cold, some “one hundred and seven degrees below [the] freezing point,” the man’s life depends upon his ability to promptly light a fire to keep his feet from freezing (122-23).... [tags: Build Fire Essays]
1310 words (3.7 pages)
- Foreshadowing in To Build a Fire In the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, foreshadowing is often used. In this story foreshadowing is an effective way to build up a climax. The foreshadowing is both shown by the environment and things the characters say. An example of environmental foreshadowing was when it said, "Fifty degrees below zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against.... "Another example was when the man's "fire was blotted out." These examples show that the cold will be the man's doom, but foreshadow only by telling the necessary details.... [tags: London To Build a Fire Essays]
489 words (1.4 pages)
- Jack London's To Build a Fire Nature is always pushing man to his limits. When man heeds the warning signs that nature has to offer and those warnings of other men, he is most likely to conquer nature. When he ignores these warnings, nature is sure to defeat man. To build a fire is a prime example of this scenario. In the short story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, an inexperienced traveler in the Yukon travels alone with his dog, even though it is ill advised to do so. The man is strong and smart but nature humbled him during his quest to reach his friends.... [tags: London Jack Build Fire Essays]
989 words (2.8 pages)
- An Analysis of Jack London's To Build A Fire Charles E. May, Author of the article "To Build A Fire': Physical Fiction and Metaphysical Critics" was giving his psychological criticism on the Jack London short story. May was elaborating on the naturalistic behavior of man versus nature when it comes to survival. May's article suggests that the protagonist in the story did not only have a psychological discovery but a "simple physical discovery that self is body only"(23). In the story, "To Build A Fire", the protagonist has to accept that he was not invincible, but a human with a weakness.... [tags: London To Build a Fire Essays]
456 words (1.3 pages)