The Younger Generation

530 Words3 Pages
“To Build a Fire” is a short story written by Jack London about a man who was traveling along the Yukon River on a penetratingly cold winter day to meet his friends at a distant camp. In this story “To Build a Fire”, Jack London effectively conveys the American younger generation’s attitude towards America’s older generation through the main character’s dismissal of the old timer’s advice and his eventual acceptance of the old timer’s wisdom. The man’s recalcitrance of the old timer’s advice showed the readers the disobedience of the younger generation towards the older generation through the main character’s difficulties and struggles while trying to reach his destination. The man’s decision to travel alone on the Klondike after fifty below and to undermine the old-timer’s advice clearly reflects the younger generation’s condescension towards the older generation. His thinking that the old timers were “Rather womanish” (London 615) and his smile suggest to the reader that the man thinks himself above the experience of the old timers and does not need their guidance. Later, the man proceeded to build a fire beneath a snow-laden tree. Even though the old timers had told him to build the fire in an open area, the man did not listen to them and built the fire where it was closest to a fuel source. Moments after the fire was lit, an abundance of snow cascaded down the tree, smothered out the flames, and almost buried the man. Through this near death experience, the man thinks that the old timers were “Perhaps … right” (616). Although the man did not accept the fact that the old timers are more knowledgeable and wise that he was, he learned from the mistakes that he had made. Through these experiences, Jack London uses the man to represent America’s younger generation. The man’s condescending behavior and attitude towards the old timers is similar to how the younger

More about The Younger Generation

Open Document