In "To Build A Fire," what are three things the old timer told the main character to do in order to survive, and what could he have done differently?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The old timer from Sulphur Creek gave the "Chechaquo" some good advice during their earlier meeting, and when the time came, the man did his best to follow the directions. However, the man failed to follow the most important one from the start:

  • No man must travel alone in temperatures of lower than 50 degrees below zero.

The man's failure to adhere to this steadfast rule sealed his fate. The other catastrophes that followed could have been prevented had he traveled with a partner. When he broke through the ice, he remembered another of the old timer's rules:

  • Wet feet must be dried immediately in such low temperatures.

The man realized this quickly, and he set about to make a fire. It was then that he remembered the old timer's third rule:

  • A man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire.

By building the fire underneath the branch laden with snow, causing the snow to fall and destroy the fire, the man found himself unable to build another. His luck had run out.

Read the study guide:
To Build a Fire

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