Essay on Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire

Essay on Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire

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Significance of the Dog in To Build a Fire


With regard to Jack London's, "To Build a Fire", I will attempt to analyze

the significance of the dog, however in doing so I will need to discuss not

only the dog, but the man and nature as well, because they all impact one

another with equal significance.  It is my opinion that throughout most of

the story the dog is to represent a living creatures innate instincts

(although I was lead to question this at the end), the man represents desire

and sheer will (although he also shows many signs of repressed instinct),

and nature represents the force which triggers instinctual behavior (perhaps

a temporary barrier if obeyed, or potentially a life ending blow if




At the beginning of the story the man takes a moment to reflect upon the

many miles of vast bleak desolation that he had traveled, not to consider

his insignificance in the world, nor to contemplate his luck in overcoming

the terrain, but to merely look back at his conquest.  He made himself aware

of the tremendous cold as he spat in the air, "before it could fall to the

snow, the spittle crackled".  By performing this action he realized that it

must be much colder than fifty below likewise he was aware of the possible

dangers involved when one travels in this type of cold, however he had a

goal in mind and these warnings of nature went unanswered.



The dog, "a big native husky, the proper wolf-dog, gray-coated and without

any visible or temperamental difference from its brother, the wild wolf",

was hindered by the severe cold.  Even though it was naturally equipped to

survive the intolerab...

... middle of paper ...

...or the powerful, but realizing that they are

a means to an end.  In other words if they don't step out of line and do

what is required of them, they will be afforded food and shelter, however if

they do step out of line they will be struck down for their disobedience.

Perhaps London's' view of the dog represented his hopes for the Socialist

Party, just as in the end of the story, when the man died (powerful

corporations), the dog lived to see another day (the working class), and in

this scenario nature would stand for justice (or perhaps God), allowing the

meek to inherit the earth.  As I said I can't be certain what the true

significance of the dog would be, but after taking a great deal of time to

consider the meaning of the story I appreciate it a great deal more, and I

am intrigued to learn more about Mr. London.


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