“To Build a Fire” Literary Analysis Essay
The story of “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, is a tale of the battle between nature and humans. Yet, the reader asks, “Does this short story reveal the true challenges of humans as they travel in freezing temperatures and terrain?” Any knowledgeable person would know (in their right mind) that it’s not smart to go out into fifty below zero temperatures, but others, like this man, seem to think they can withstand it. The obstacles are present to detour him from his walking adventure, but he continues to ignore them because he believes nature is something he can accomplish.
Starting on his journey, the man encounters many instances that should have deterred him from continuing on. The beginning of the story notes the weather: “There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not a cloud in the sky” (609). The man notices that the day is not going to develop like the ones he is used to, which should make him a little curious and worried for himself. The hiker now decided to spit, “…in the air, before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled” (610). Once again, another sign to turn back and find shelter because the air is frozen! Spit freezing and no clouds in the sky should have made him question his quest into the cold.
This man is traveling with a native husky dog; this dog seems to have more common sense than the man. The husky trots alongside the man: “It knew that it was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man’s judgment” (610). If a husky, native to this land of Alaska, finds that the temperatures are unbearable, then nobody should try to master them. The message that dog relays should be taken as insight into what the adventurer’s decision is. This again does not stop the man from continuing on his journey to his goal.
The man seems to need one more obstacle in order to stop him. The final trap is falling into an under-snow-spring....