An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire

An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire

Length: 474 words (1.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire


In her cultural criticism of Jack London's "To Build a Fire", Jill Widdicombe explores the question of whether the story's protagonist might have perished from the extreme cold of the Klondike winter even if with a traveling companion. She describes the brutality of the winter weather and, alluding to the man's confidence in his ability to survive the weather, describes it as "behavior most of us can understand" - especially if we are accustomed to warmer surroundings. She states: "the extreme cold of frosty landscapes--or "The White Silence", as London describes it--is so quiet and abstract that it does not immediately appear to be lethal".

As the plot unfolds, I feel the story's protagonist falls victim to several factors brought into play at once: his inexperience with the severity of the Klondike winters, his inability to envision the possible consequences of his decision to travel alone in such weather, a series of unfortunate events during his trip, and the misjudgment exercised in his attempts to survive those incidents. Though quick and alert, the man's lack of imagination renders him unable to visualize what might happen to a man traveling without a companion should adverse circumstances arise in such severe weather in an uninhabited landscape. When he indeed finds himself in dire straits as a result of getting wet in the brutal freezing weather, he once again fails to imagine how quickly the cold will threaten his life and consequently misjudges the severity of his situation. His poor judgment causes him to make one mistake after another until he finds himself incapable of extricating himself from his situation. It seems obvious that had he made himself more familiar with the culture of the land and paid attention to the warnings of the old-timer on Sulpher Creek, he might have chosen to delay his trip and live to travel another day. Had he understood the importance of fostering a relationship with the dog, a native Husky with inbred instincts regarding the native climate, the dog would have interacted differently with him, maybe warning him of the danger of the weather through its actions or perhaps providing help, either by sharing its body heat or by going for help. However, instead he held little regard for the dog and the dog reciprocated: "there was no keen intimacy between the dog and the man.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Dec 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=20263>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire Essay

- An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire In her cultural criticism of Jack London's "To Build a Fire", Jill Widdicombe explores the question of whether the story's protagonist might have perished from the extreme cold of the Klondike winter even if with a traveling companion. She describes the brutality of the winter weather and, alluding to the man's confidence in his ability to survive the weather, describes it as "behavior most of us can understand" - especially if we are accustomed to warmer surroundings....   [tags: London To Build a Fire Essays]

Free Essays
474 words (1.4 pages)

An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire Essay

- An Analysis of Jack London's To Build a Fire In his article "To Build a Fire" a Physical Fiction and Metaphysical Critics Charles E. May comments and disagrees with a statement that "To Build a Fire" is "a masterpiece of a short fiction"(20). Literary critics claimed that London used many metaphors in this work such as "sun-fire-life" or "cold-darkness-depression-death"(20), but May argues that this story should be read and interpreted literally and does not contain deep, dual or metaphorical meaning....   [tags: London To Build a Fire Essays]

Free Essays
542 words (1.5 pages)

Analysis Of Jack London 's ' Build A Fire ' Essay

- In Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”, an unknown man is traveling alone in the extremely dangerous weather of seventy-five degrees below zero along Yukon Trail. Despite being warned about the dangers; he was bent on reaching his destination at the boy’s camp on Henderson Creek. Nevertheless, he tried many things to help keep his body warm but everything he tried failed. Close to death, he finally realized that it was impossible to survive this journey without a partner. The theme illustrates that sometimes it’s best to listen to others advice because everyone isn’t able to defeat nature....   [tags: Temperature, Cold, Klondike Gold Rush, Weather]

Research Papers
742 words (2.1 pages)

Analysis of Jack London´s To Build a Fire Essay

- Jack London was a prominent Bay Area author and he, himself, had a heuristic experience with the Alaskan wilderness, much like the main character in his short story “To Build a Fire”. The aforesaid main character, simply referred to as “the man” endured the harshness of Nature in the Yukon, firsthand, and is accurately told due to London’s past experience with similar settings. The man and his companion, the dog, were unnamed and this, therein, implies that they are symbols representing the aggregation of humanity and instinctual, animalistic thought....   [tags: humanity, thought, natural, mindset]

Research Papers
562 words (1.6 pages)

Essay on To Build a Fire by Jack London

- What would you do if the only thing separating you from death was starting a fire. Most people would obviously start a fire because they do not want to die. This is exactly the same situation that a man falls into in To Build A Fire. In this story a man is setting across the Yukon in order to get to a camp where his friends are at. This is a trip that he has made many times and he can even predict what time he will arrive in that camp. He is traveling with a dog as his companion. As he goes along the trail that he has picked out he notes many things about his surroundings and the temperature is a constant figure in his mind because if it drops too rapidly that would mean death for him....   [tags: short story review and analysis]

Research Papers
995 words (2.8 pages)

Jack London’s Use of Repetition in “To Build a Fire” Essay

- Jack London’s To Build a Fire follows an unnamed protagonist, who’s only referred to as “the man”, as he travels the Yukon Trail during a severe snow storm. Along with his husky wolf-dog, he determined to meet friends at an old junction by six o’clock. The man, who was warned not travel in the Klondike alone, presses forward through the terrain’s harsh weather. He later falls through the snow in what looked to be a secure spot. With his feet and fingers soaked, he starts a fire and begins drying himself....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Research Papers
1230 words (3.5 pages)

The Theme of To Build a Fire Essay

- The struggle between man and nature is a common theme in a lot of literary pieces. Some exaggerate the role of either nature or man; however, this tale exposes weaknesses of both sides and provides an interesting twist. Through the use of both flat and round characters, involved in a specific life changing event, will lead to a role reversal that proves nature will truly win out over nurture in some situations. Mr. London involves the reader and prepares the plot through specific uses of Character, Point of view and demonstrates his view on which will be the victor....   [tags: Man and Nature, Literary Analysis, Jack London]

Research Papers
1018 words (2.9 pages)

No Accidents in Jack London's To Build a Fire Essays

- As the title implies, Jack London's 1908 short story contains within its narrative a literal set of sequential directions on how "To Build a Fire." London extends this sequential conceit to his fatidic vision of the universe. Unlike the dog in the story, who can rely on its pure-bred arctic instinct as it navigates through the dangerous tundra, the anonymous man possesses a duller, myopic instinct which is unable foresee the consequentiality of the environment. This instinctual flaw in mankind (relative to that of a husky) is a given, but the man fails to compensate by integrating intellectuality into his journey....   [tags: London To Build a Fire Essays]

Research Papers
2560 words (7.3 pages)

The Main Theme Presented Within Jack London's Text To Build a Fire Essay

- “It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things, a subtle gloom that made the day dark, and that was due to the absence of sun.” (Fire, 597) There was a time before humans experienced consciousness on this earth, and there will, without a doubt, be a time after. Even after humanity has long passed, the world will not cease its spinning. Some individuals like to look around and think that nature responds to the existence of humanity, however, upon further investigation you constantly see small structures being enveloped by foliage....   [tags: literary analysis]

Research Papers
998 words (2.9 pages)

Stephen Crane's The Open Boat and Jack London's To Build A Fire Essay

- Stephen Crane's The Open Boat and Jack London's To Build A Fire Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat” speaks directly to Jack London’s own story, “To Build A Fire” in their applications of naturalism and views on humanity. Both writers are pessimistic in their views of humanity and are acutely aware of the natural world. The representations of their characters show humans who believe that they are strong and can ably survive, but these characters many times overestimate themselves which can lead to an understanding of their own mortality as they face down death....   [tags: Literacy Analysis ]

Research Papers
2312 words (6.6 pages)

Related Searches

..So it made no effort to communicate its apprehension to the man". The end result of the man's lack of imagination, poor judgment, and failure to become familiar with his surroundings is the forfeiture of his life to hypothermia.

Works Cited

Widdicombe, Jill. "An overview of "To Build a Fire." Exploring Short Stories. Gale Research 1998. GALILEO. http://infotrac.galegroup.com

London, Jack. "To Build a Fire." Reading and Writing about Literature. Phillip Sipiora. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2002. 149-158.
Return to 123HelpMe.com