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To Build A Fire Theme Essay

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Its Only Fifty Below: Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” Jack London presents the theme of “Man versus Nature” throughout his works. In particular, his short story, “To Build a Fire,” depicts a man traveling through the woods to get to, what is assumed to be, some type of camping grounds, but is slowly freezing to death. He keeps saying that its “below fifty” as if as a passing note that has no importance, but as a reader, I only see him slowly suffering of hypothermia, unaware. The man, whose only traveling companion is a dog, has been warned to not travel alone by one of the natives, but he deems this “rather womanish” and that “all a man had to do was to keep his head, and he was alright” (London 1053), which ultimately becomes his undoing. The man does not keep his head when he realizes that parts of his…show more content…
Snow, and ice, appear to be peaceful, and the land is quiet, but as what happened to the man, this serenity quickly becomes lethal to the human body. Widdicombe’s accurate description of hypothermia, particularly the last stages – “they [begin] to hallucinate and overheat” (Widdicombe) – is demonstrated by the man as he feels warmth in his chest but cannot feel it (London 1057). In my interpretation of the story, the man is a representation of humanity and how we can talk ourselves into something and be in such a certain mindset that we do not recognize the signs of our own destruction, as the man did in the frozen Yukon. In conclusion, I found Widdicombe’s article interesting in that it connected the man with the people of today. We don’t experience these occurrences often, especially now that we have weather forecasts and insulated houses, and we probably couldn’t imagine being in this type of situation. London illustrates man versus nature in his “To Build a Fire,” in which nature dominates over the naively, arrogant
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