- Published: August 26, 2022
- Updated: August 26, 2022
- University / College: University of York
- Level: Bachelor's Degree
- Language: English
- Downloads: 38
To build a fire” by John London Number] John London’s short and renowned story “ to build a fire” enabled him to earn the most prestigious position of being the foremost American naturalist writer of twentieth century. The story’s plot revolves around the expedition of an anonymous and novice traveler in Yukon Territory (Alaska). The main theme set by the author is man verses nature. However, there have been many subthemes like fortitude, new environment, responsibility, endurance, impulsive or intellectual decisions and all of these are interlinked to the main theme, which enables the readers to grasp the message in a diverse manner aimed by the author.
A Chechaquo traveler starts his journey for Henderson Creek in the Yukon Territory of Alaska under the temperature of fifty degrees below zero (London, p. 104-105). He begins his journey to meet his friends at an old claim with his native husky dog although; he had been advised not to travel alone in Klondike in such an extreme weather of minus fifty degree at Sulphur creek.
The author has devised this pattern at the beginning to acknowledge his readers about the association of human determination verses fate. As nature impacts immensely on the plans of a man and throughout his life the destiny remains like an oasis for him. Thus, the author has depicted the zeal of a man for accomplishments and life along with his struggle to survive even in the worst case scenario.
This story is about a one day journey probably few hours after 9 am. The unknown traveler observes the extremity of weather by spitting and his spit is frozen in the mid air before it lands on the snow covered ground. His nose and cheeks are frozen and he expects frost bite, if he did not warm them. He travels with determination in an unknown zone despite of the cold to reach his destiny leaving the main trail and carefully avoiding the soft patches of the creek.
The author has demonstrated amorality and responsibility in the later part of the story. He has woven the storyline in such a fashion to furnish his naturalist inclinations and to show the human planning, thinking and action process as inevitable to fate’s or nature’s decisions. Therefore, man even with his vigilant planning and meticulous decisions cannot avoid or forgo the misery destined for him. Extreme cold weather is the antagonist of the story; thus, the author has developed acceptance in the readers to expect the worst from the nature without being judgmental about it.
Around twelve O’clock he sat down to eat his lunch but to his horror his fingers, toes and feet were numb. He quickly gathers twigs and fire-wood to light a fire. The fire enabled him to eat and melted the snow on his face along with it kept the dog warm and cozy for a while. But the man resumed to his journey which disturbed the dog, as it knew the consequences of travelling in dangerous cold weather.
Character of the traveler has been demonstrated as courageous and determinant man. So, this traveler is in an unknown region, but is aware of survival tactics and can analyze his paths astutely. The main quality of a naturalist writer is to focus on process, therefore, the route, the fire, the time to eat lunch, all have been elaborated extensively. Moreover, the process to keep him from being frostbitten is written with all its peculiarities. Through, dog’s character the author has tried to show his readers the brutal and realistic facts which were undermined by the traveler due to his risk predilection.
The man after a while again ignited fire under a spruce tree. He took off his mittens, cap, German socks and moccasins, but in a sudden the frost on the tree fell down on him and on the fire. In that moment the man was sure of his death, but he gathered his strength and tried to run. As expected he ran a few paces and fell down due to grown numbness in his feet and legs. He sat in a dignified position because he saw his death. The dog saw the man in a sitting posture without fire and realized the smell of death, thus, he ran away for his survival.
Naturalist writers focused more on narrative, environmental facts and fundamentals of nature instead of shedding light on the characters and demonstrating their sentiments intensely. Their aim was to focus on the harsh realities which affect man and change his destiny.
To Build a Fire, and Other Stories. Paw Prints, 2010. Print.
Feldman, Kevin, Kate Kinsella, and Sharon Vaughn. Prentice Hall Literature: [grade 11]. Upper Saddle River, N. J: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.