Analysis Of Jack London's To Build A Fire

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Jack London’s background and personal beliefs are reflected in his short story To Build a Fire. In this short story, the narrator is traveling through the harsh environment of the Yukon but due to his lack of imagination and experience he finds himself in a life threatening situation. As the man navigates a frozen river, he is in high alert of streams flowing beneath the snow that could cause the ice to give way beneath him. After avoiding patches of the streams, he sits down to eat his lunch but forgets to build a fire. When they start back down the trail, the dog has to be forcefully called to the man’s heals because the instincts in the animal are telling it to burrow down in the snow. Unfortunately for the man, nature takes its toll and…show more content…
This is seen in the capitalistic story of “To Build a Fire.” The man knew that falling into the water will ultimately lead to his death but if the dog broke through the ice it would survive. In this instance man and beast could work together to maneuver through the harsh environment and would eventually become successful. The dog represents the community the nameless man is within but because this story portrays a capitalist society, the man is unable to build off the knowledge of the animal. London teases the audience with his own political beliefs when the man sends the dog forward to test the ice and after it breaks through the weak ice, he helps it remove the ice from its paw. If “To Build a Fire” were to portray his true beliefs the entire story, a mutual relationship would be created by the nameless man and his surrounding community. After the snow falls on the fire, the man tries to kill the dog and use its corpse for warmth, but little does he know the dog is worth more to him alive than dead. If he were to mimic the dog’s way of burrowing down into the snow in order to insulate itself form the frigid air then warming his extremities would no longer be a problem. In addition to mimicking the dog, he could have used the dog as his personal heater. If the dog’s corpse would give off heat then so will its living body. The man and dog could provide each other with warmth until the man’s hands thaw enough to build a fire and then both would have protection. For this to happen though, the nameless man must provide more intimacy to the dog than the whip lash. Since the nameless man is representative of the common American, and the dog symbolizes a community, if the man were to contribute to society then they would succeed as a whole. This supports London’s political beliefs but because this story was meant to be an anticapitalistic
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