What is the setting (place?)
What is the setting (time?)
the Yukon Gold Rush of the late 1890’s?
based on guesswork
What do you think the setting would lead you to think about man’s frailty in general or man’s place in the universe?
Man’s existence is precarious at best.
What is the significance of the spittle freezing in mid-air?
It is minus 75 degrees Fahrenheit which is life-threatening.
Why does London make an effort to describe the “explosive” crackle-freezing of the spittle?
It demonstrates the man’s lack of perception.
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Man versus Nature
Who is the man’s companion?
What can you say about the man’s judgment?
Arrogance clouds his reasoning.
Does Nature care for man?
Not in the least.
A complex behavior that is rigidly patterned throughout a species and is unlearned.
to dig a hole or tunnel into or under something
Instinctual knowledge is pitted against perpetual knowledge in the story. Which belongs to Nature?
What is a symbol for Nature?
What does “he was not much given to thinking” tell you about the man?
He is not perceptive of the “meaning” of things.
The man is a symbol for
the arrogance of men
Fire is regarded in what way in this story?
Jack London grew up in great
London was raised by a
the cruelty of men toward their brothers.
One of the themes of the story regarding the setting
Nature is indifferent to man.
Another theme of the story regarding character flaws in men.
Many men are to arrogant to perceive the truth of his existence.
Why are the men in the Yukon?
The search for quick riches.
Why is the search for quick riches a bad thing?
It leads to placing money as the goal instead of building something or accomplishing a goal and thereby “earning” wealth as a consequence of one’s primary goal.
Who or what is the antagonist in the story?
the weather or the extreme cold of the place.
What does the narrator say is the man’s problem?
He is without imagination.
What is the POV of the story?
The narrator is limited-
big, destructive fire
occurring within the mind of a character
occurring between a character and society, nature, another person, God, or Fate.
“To Build a Fire”
Along the Yukon River in the frozen northern wilderness, an inexperienced but confident prospector and his work dog make a long and dangerous journey on foot toward a camp. The temperature is far colder than the man thinks, too cold for a solitary journey. That is his first mistake. His second mistake- building a fire in the wrong spot- proves fatal. Through nature is the antagonist of this tale, the man’s own over confidence contributes to his downfall. The dog, sensing the danger of their predicament from the start, still stays with the man until the very end. Then its instincts direct it on toward the camp, where other food and fire providers are to be found.