Naturalism And Determinism In Jack London's To Build A Fire

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In the short story “To Build a Fire”, Jack London uses naturalism and determinism to develop the plot. Naturalism pits the protagonist against the harsh conditions of the natural world that cares so little for humans. Determinism in this short story expresses that all outcomes result from a predetermined fate that the protagonist is bound to. The unnamed protagonist needed to have specific skills to be able to survive in these harsh conditions, but this protagonist had too many weaknesses and not enough strengths to survive; these weaknesses determine his fate and lead to his demise.
Naturalism is the main reason for the demise of the protagonist due to the harsh natural conditions of the environment. The protagonist lacks the experience of the old-timer and the instincts of the dog, and he falls victim to the harsh conditions. The protagonist puts himself into the dangerously freezing temperatures: “it was not merely colder than 50 below zero; it was colder than 60 below, than 70 below. It was 75 below zero” (3). The frigid environment causes the man to be unable to survive because no man, especially one with little experience, is not adapted to this kind of weather. Naturalism is shown through nature’s hostile weather, which causes the man to freeze. The snow, ice, and severe cold are symbolic of the implacable
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Throughout the London’s description, it is expressed how the man chooses to ignore the evidence of danger, such as the cold weather conditions and the old timer’s advice. His arrogance causes him to spiral into a downfall and face a regrettable outcome. The man is unable to shape his destiny due to the many mistakes he made and the many weaknesses he has. These weaknesses and mistakes lead to a plethora of misfortunate events that ended up costing him his life. Sadly, it is too late for the man to survive when he says “You were right, old fellow. You were right”
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