English 1010. Fiction Analysis
5th December 2011
To Build A Fire by Jack London.
Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” is a short story set in the Yukon wilderness presumably in the mid to late nineteenth century. The story concerns a man, who is making his way to a work-camp on foot in the company of a dog in the brutal cold of the region. I see this story as a man’s lack of respect for the landscape within which he is travelling. Although it might not be a complete lack of respect more of a neutral feeling towards what he considers a benevolent setting. The author had himself experienced the brutality of this environment whilst taking part in the Klondike gold rush in 1897. His experiences on this adventure seem to come through when reading this story as only a veteran of such an endeavour could testify to.
The setting of the story is thoroughly described and in my opinion is the main character of the story. The temperature that is described within the story is so low as to make the survival of man questionable. The description of the environment really causes me to imagine the setting and believe the backdrop against which this story unfolds. This beautiful yet ominous landscape is something that is lost on the man’s character. “The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances,”(par 3.)
London tells the story from a non-participant point of view, describing in great detail the unfolding of the story. The tone of his writing seems to be unsympathetic to the man. What I mean by unsympathetic is that it seems that London has placed the man within a beautiful, frigid setting whilst knowing that the fragility of the man’s existence is lost on the man himself. Paragraph 3 shows us the potential folly of this journey as the man’s perception of his world is described. His understanding of life and its...