To Build A Fire Naturalism Analysis

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Beams of warm light and soft background noises of chirping birds and distant running water while standing in the midst of grand shades of green and brown; this is often the image that pops into a person’s head once the word “nature” is uttered, not the extreme conditions it crafts that take more lives than one can count. Nature is all around us and it is a part of us, humanity was born from it and it can just as easily be destroyed by it. In the short story “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, the literary era of Naturalism is evident in how, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, the protagonist is ultimately defeated by nature. His death was not born out of some malicious hidden agenda by nature but rather by the man’s own arrogance; nature…show more content…
London is concerned with characterizing nature as the final authority on every person’s fate, as is the theme of Naturalism, and this is made especially obvious through the journey the man takes throughout the story. The first clue that displays nature’s presence is the natural “traps” that leave the setting a minefield that the man acknowledges must be traversed with extreme caution, “he knew that the coldest snaps never froze these springs, and he knew likewise their danger. They were traps. They hid pools of water... ” (London 631). The wording of this is meant to show how the man views this aspect of nature, traps are very much creations of intelligent creatures, especially humans, thus characterizing nature as actively trying to harm the man. To the man, he must utilize his wits and cool head in order to out maneuver the traps laid out by nature, calling upon his human-gained knowledge guide him against nature’s plan. In contrast, the narrative contradicts the man’s impressions with, “usually the snow above the hidden pools had a sunken, candied appearance that advertised the danger” (London 631). Nature provides warnings that serve to “advertise” danger, not only further personifying it but also providing a counter that paints nature as more fair.…show more content…
The only two point of views in the story belong to both of these characters and their shared experience differs through the narrative and through instinct. The dog is introduced with instinct just as much as the man is introduced with arrogance, “its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man 's judgment” (London 630) and it is through this instinct the dog ends the story alive. The dog’s instincts work to characterize nature as indifferent in just how instincts develop and work. It was through the dog’s ancestor’s ancient and long-lasting struggle that it was given an advantage. Given being the keyword, as all the dog did was follow passed down genetic information and acted upon it, such as when it fell into the ice and bit off the forming ice on its paws, “it did not know this. It merely obeyed the mysterious prompting that arose from the deep crypts of its being” (London 632). Nature provided these promptings, not because it favored the dog over the man, but simply because the dog’s ancestors were native to the environment the two were struggling through. It was pure luck and obedience on the dog’s part when faced with a force greater than itself that led to its survival, nothing more; nature has no favorites, survival of the fittest is completely
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