Naturalism In Jack London's To Build A Fire

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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 was just playing out its course, of which the man was unfortunate enough to get caught in. Nature is not concerned with the lives of mere mortals, but it is also not doing its utmost to kill everything that crosses its path; Jack London characterizes nature as an indifferent force that can be as forgiving as it is damning. The man’s struggle to survive characterizes the external nature of his setting just as much as the characters of the dog and the man himself.
Nature is very much its own entity in this story, perhaps not through any sentience, but most definitely through how much of a presence and how much influence it holds both in the plot and the misadventure of the protagonist. London is concerned with characterizing nature as the

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