The Significance Of The Frontier In Jack London's To Build A Fire

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The stories by Frederick Jackson Turner and Jack London are recognized to be the benchmarks of facing the great frontier in the way that they view the aspect of the wilderness and how it has a great effect on man and his ability to survive. However, the authors themselves could not have been more different in their approach about the subject. Frederick Jackson Turner credits the American frontier as the one main focus in shaping the American character. In The Significance of the Frontier in American History, he expresses the journey that is “The result is that to the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics.” (Turner 1136). However, Jack London shows how a man’s surroundings can overtake him. In his story To Build a Fire, “The trouble with…show more content…
He was warned by a seasoned old man who told him of the dangers in his decision. The traveler, who was new to the area and had never been in the extreme elements, ignores all the signs of danger as he and his wolf-dog starts out on their journey. As the story progresses, the traveler finds himself in several difficult situations. The temperature was the first major sign of the danger of his decision. “Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty degree below zero. That there would be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head.” (London 1048). The trail had over a foot of new snow on it since the last sled had traveled on it was another sign of the traveler’s folly in the journey, but again he ignored this and kept on his journey. In the end the traveler freezes to death and the wolf-dog follows his instinct to find “the other food-providers and fire-providers.” (London 1058). The traveler never uses his will to survive as a guiding force in his decision making plan and is unable or unwilling to admit his defeat until his own
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