Short story to build a fire. To Build a Fire: Summary & Themes 2019-01-11

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Short Stories: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

short story to build a fire

It halted forty feet away and surveyed him curiously, with ears sharply pricked forward. He did this for five minutes, violently, and his heart pumped enough blood up to the surface to put a stop to his shivering. In despair, he admits that the old man at Sulpur Creek was right: he should never have traveled alone. If he kept it up, he would certainly be with the boys by six. It expects the man to curse, but there is only silence. He glanced down at first in order to assure himself that he was really standing up, for the absence of sensation in his feet left him unrelated to the earth.


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To Build a Fire

short story to build a fire

And all the while the dog sat and watched him, a certain yearning wistfulness in its eyes, for it looked upon him as the fire-provider, and the fire was slow in coming. The man doesn't pause to consider the ''conjectural field of immortality and man's place in the universe. The dog looks to the man as the source of fire, and it desires that protective warmth. It had been days since he had seen the sun, and he knew that a few more-days must pass before that cheerful orb, due south, would just peep above the sky-line and dip immediately from view. He would have to build a fire now to dry his clothes and boots.

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To Build a Fire Themes from LitCharts

short story to build a fire

He had built a fire. After a while, feeling came back to his fingers. But it was all he could do, hold its body encircled in his arms and sit there. Maybe, if he ran on, his feet would thaw out; and, anyway, if he ran far enough, he would reach camp and the boys. It waits longer, howling, while the stars shine in the sky. He made a choice of ignoring the weather warnings, which evidenced danger in his journey.


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Essay on To Build a Fire a Short Story by Jack London

short story to build a fire

He is blinded by fear greater than anything he has ever experienced. Jack London: Master Craftsman of the Short Story. Then he began to feel the pain. He knows enough to understand that he must stop and build a fire. The dog sat facing him, waiting. Perhaps this is an indication that the man is not wanted here.

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To Build a Fire

short story to build a fire

The dog waits until night fall, watching the unmoving man. The man imagines himself clever and hardy enough to stand the cold; the dog is closer to nature, without knowledge of distances or maps, or understanding of the degrees of frost. Every warm breath the man exhales increases the ice deposit on his beard. The temperature is extremely cold because the mans spit freezes before it hits the ground. He was a warm-whiskered man, but the hair on his face did not protect the high cheek-bones and the eager nose that thrust itself aggressively into the frosty air. The cold does more than create frost and ice on his face.

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The Narrative Point of View of Build a

short story to build a fire

So it is no accident that at the heart of the story lies an existentialist theme. His vision of the boys finding him shows his desire for the unattainable: other humans and civilization. Therefore, for the only world that the man is aware is the environment that he has developed solemnly. The man does not respect the harsh setting he is visiting. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. He pictures his body completely frozen, and this sets off a new panic.

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Essay on To Build a Fire a Short Story by Jack London

short story to build a fire

A man travels in the Yukon near the border of current day Alaska on an extremely cold morning with a husky wolf-dog. Then he grew very calm. It was a trail that would lead him straight to Henderson Creek and his friends. He walks along a creek trail, mindful of the dangerous, concealed springs; even getting wet feet on such a cold day is extremely dangerous. The brutality of nature is an important theme in this story; there is no toughing out 75 degrees below zero. He is, in short, shortsighted.

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The Narrative Point of View of Build a

short story to build a fire

A half hour later, it happened. Allowing the environment to kill the man indicates that he is weak both mentally and biologically, while on the other hand the dog is stronger by surviving the same harsh environment. Absence of Sun When the sun stays behind the clouds, a certain gloom descends. The blood of his body recoiled before it. The cold does not faze the man, a newcomer to the Yukon, since he rarely translates hard facts, such as the extreme cold, into more significant ideas, such as man's frailty and mortality. The man is cautious and careful in his fire building, and, yet, he overlooks the thing that will destroy him: the location of his fire under the pine trees.

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To Build a Fire: Summary & Themes

short story to build a fire

The cold does not faze the man, a newcomer to the Yukon, who plans to meet his friends by six o'clock at an old claim. The sting that followed upon the striking of his fingers against his leg ceased so quickly that he was startled. He soon finds out that this is a level of coldness he has never experienced. Intellect or technology alone, the story suggests, are not enough. And it knew that it was not good to walk abroad in such fearful cold. Well, he decided, he might as well take it like a man.

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To Build a Fire Summary

short story to build a fire

So he continued monotonously to chew tobacco and to increase the length of his amber beard. He expected to reach Henderson Creek by six o'clock that evening. He drops them into the snow once the tree bark is lit. He thinks about the man from Sulphur Creek who gave him advice about the cold; he scoffed at it at the time. Maybe running would make his feet warm. When he fell down a second time, it curled its tail over its forefeet and sat in front of him, facing him, curiously eager and intent The warmth and security of the animal angered him, and he cursed it till it flattened down its ears appealingly.

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