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What is the theme in "To Build a Fire"?

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arkenya | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:10 PM via web

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What is the theme in "To Build a Fire"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 24, 2011 at 1:43 AM (Answer #1)

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There are several themes explored by Jack London in his classic short story, "To Build a Fire," but they all seem to center around the theme of Man Against Nature. The lone traveller--a "chechaquo," or newcomer--is warned against making the mistakes that befall him during the severe sub-freezing conditions. However, he neglects to heed them, only remembering the warnings after the tragedies occur. He is warned about travelling alone in such conditions and against treading on uncertain ice. He does so anyway, believing that his own preparation and skills (and possibly luck) will protect him. When he builds the fire under the snow-laden tree, however, his luck runs out. He finds out the hard way that Mother Nature does not differentiate between good or bad, young or old, human or animal.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 30, 2011 at 1:27 PM (Answer #2)

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This question has already been answered:  http://www.enotes.com/build-fire/q-and-a/examime-jack-london-s-short-story-build-fire-terms-223343

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