How does the story demonstrate the limitations of human intelliegence?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The protagonist of this story has only average intelligence, but he is an experienced outdoorsman and has had one year in the Yukon, during which time he has had an opportunity to learn from men with more experience in coping with this harsh environment. He makes the mistake of traveling by himself when the temperature has dropped below zero fifty degrees. Even his dog knows instinctively that he should not be traveling at all when the weather is as cold as it is. The actual temperature, according to the story, is seventy-five degrees below zero.

He makes a foolish mistake when he tries to build a fire under a spruce tree. The branches are covered heavily with accumulated snow, and they dump an avalanche which puts out his fire. Later he panicks and tries running all the way to his desgination, but he doesn't realize that he lacks the stamina to keep running for such a distance, especially with the ground covered with snow.

He realizes too late that he should have listened to the advice of the old-timer on Sulpher Creek. He has learned a lot of lesons in this one day, but it is too late to do him any good. The last lesson he learns is that freezing to death is not an unpleasant way to die.

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To Build a Fire

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