Biographical Criticism: To Build a Fire by Jack London

Category: Build A Fire, Fire
Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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The short story “To Build a Fire” is not the typical man versus man struggle. It is more of a man versus nature, or in other perspective, a man versus himself struggle. It only has two characters, a man and a dog, both traversing a snowy path towards a certain place, despite knowing the inevitability of danger or even death itself. In the end, death was sure for the man, as his struggle against himself and against nature ended drastically.

The dog, following his instinct, went away towards safety. But the story is not only a work of fiction. It is in itself, a combination of the writer’s imagination and his real life. Jack London is one of those writers who lived a very colorful life. Jack London is not the typical writer who wrote for pleasure in his pastime or has made a living out of writing. London grew up without knowing his dad, and eventually lived his life under the care of a foster parent.

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He worked manual labor in both land and sea, and when he finds a free time, that’s when he scribbles down his thoughts. London literally struggled against himself and his environment. When the time came that he has to live by himself, he worked hard in order to sustain his needs. It was like trying to create a fire in a vast land covered by snow so that you would survive the night and would not freeze to death. He has to take care of everything in order to survive.

As a man, Jack London grew up in a hostile environment full of snow which would kill him anytime if he doesn’t take care of himself. The story “To Build a Fire” is not just the work of imagination by Jack London. Somehow, it is affected by his outlook in life, as well as his influences in life. All of his struggles against himself and his harsh environment were reflected in the story. These struggles would literally make or break you. It made Jack London, and it killed the man in the story.

Related Questions

on Biographical Criticism: To Build a Fire by Jack London

What is the critique of the story to build a fire?
The main critique of the story "To Build a Fire" is that it is a bleak and pessimistic tale that paints a grim picture of the human condition. It also has been criticized for its lack of character development and its reliance on a fatalistic view of life.
What is the summary and historical background of the story to build a fire?
The story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London is a classic tale of man versus nature. It follows an unnamed man as he attempts to traverse the Yukon wilderness in sub-zero temperatures. Despite warnings from an old-timer, the man underestimates the power of nature and is ultimately killed by the cold. The story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of hubris and the importance of respecting nature.
What is Jack London's purpose in to build a fire?
Jack London's purpose in writing "To Build a Fire" is to explore the themes of man versus nature and the power of nature over man. He also uses the story to illustrate the importance of knowledge and experience in the face of danger.
What is the theme of the story to build a fire?
The theme of the story "To Build a Fire" is the struggle between man and nature. The protagonist is pitted against the harsh elements of the Yukon wilderness, and his lack of knowledge and experience leads to his ultimate demise. The story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of underestimating nature and the importance of preparation and caution.

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Biographical Criticism: To Build a Fire by Jack London. (2016, Aug 09). Retrieved from

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