Essay on To Build a Fire: Revealing the Man

859 Words Apr 30th, 2007 4 Pages
The story To Build a Fire demonstrates possible dangers of traveling in the Yukon under extreme cold. Through a young man, Jack London depicts the consequences of ignoring instinct and survival advice. The man travels with a dog, who can perceive the dangers of the freezing wilderness. The reader learns of the man's personality through descriptive words and phrases while journeying through the story. At the beginning of the story the man turned aside from the main trail. He stopped at the top of a bank and looked over the landscape. The day was clear, yet the narrator says there exists an "Intangible pall" over things (London 920). Intangible means, incapable of being perceived by the senses, or being realized. A pall is a dark …show more content…
Although the man seems to know a few survival skills, he is foolish to travel alone in seventy below zero weather. After building a successful fire, the man mocks the old-timers at Sulphur Creek. He called the old-timers "womanish" for saying no man should travel alone after fifty below. The man says "any man who was a man could travel alone" (London 926). Obviously the man possesses overconfidence in his abilities to travel in the Yukon. He gives the impression of a young man who does what he wishes regardless of what elders say. By calling the old-timers "womanish" he shows immaturity and arrogance. Later on the man's arrogance leads to his death.
The man built his fire underneath a large tree. Each time he took a twig from the tree, he slightly disrupted the snow cover on the branches. To emphasize how subtle the agitations were, the narrator describes the agitation as "imperceptible" (London 926). Imperceptible means the movement was so very subtle, slight or gradual the movement was barely noticeable. Even though the movements are said to be imperceptible, the disruption could have been greater. The man could have become careless in his actions and less aware of his surroundings. Building a fire under a tree was not a smart idea because the snow collapsed and put out the fire. Had he paid closer attention, the man could have prevented the disaster. The reason for this understatement was

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