Jul 11, 2019 in Literature

To Build a Fire Essay Sample

‘To Build a Fire’ is Jack London’s story whose setting places a man in an extremely cold weather condition. The man has never had personal experiences of this weather except the briefings he got from the man from Sulphur Creek. In this new environment, the man suffers and his company (a dog) seems to be more experienced about the cold weather than he is. At the initial stage when the man meets the dog, the relationship between the man and the dog is that they are perfect strangers caught in a tremendously chilly weather. The dog wanted fire and it believed the man would find a place to light up one. One strange thing happens; the dog instinctively knows that it is tremendously cold and that the condition did not call for travelling. On the other hand, the man fails to judge the extremity of weather condition.

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One of the themes covered in this tale is survival tactics at times of extremely cold weather. Brain capacity of a man cannot be compared to a dog’s, but the man is inexperienced as compared to the dog. The author illustrates this by pointing out that the dog had its lessons passed on to it by its ancestors while the man depends on Sulphur Creek’s tips flimsily held in his head. As a result, the dog is more conversant with the environment than the man. As the man and the dog interact, the dog looks smarter while the man makes one mistake after the other. This can be illustrated in two different aspects from the tale. Firstly, when he forced the dog to jump so that he would ascertain danger in snow-covered and hidden pools, the dog refused. This shows that he wasn’t sure whether there was danger or not but the dog had clear knowledge about the danger and for that it had to be compelled to jump. The second instance is demonstrated at the caution the dog takes not to have a sore foot. “It had wet its forefeet and legs, and almost immediately the water that clung to it turned to ice. It made quick efforts to lick the ice off its legs, then dropped down in the snow and began to bite out the ice that had formed between the toes,”(London). The dog did this to prevent sore feet, something that the man failed to do in several occasions.

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