I'm writing a paper for school about "To Build a Fire." How would I find details about what the man brought along with him and what time he left and will arrive?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You should not have to look anywhere for details for your paper but in the text itself. You have to read closely, but you will see many clues from which, like Sherlock Holmes, you can make deductions—or inferences. You should feel free to make some educated guesses based on what you are told in the story. For example, the story does not say what time the man left, but it is only reasonable to assume that he got an early start because he has a long trek ahead of him. He wouldn't leave before daybreak, because it would be dangerous to try to walk in the dark in that setting. You would have to calculate what time it would get light up there in the Yukon. That means you would have to make a guess at the time of year. No doubt it is the dead of winter if it is that cold! He brought along something to eat for lunch. He also brought a lot of wooden matches. You can't really tell what time he arrives because he never does arrive where he is going. You can make a lot of assumptions about the place he is headed for based on the warmth and companionship he is looking forward to. I think you should feel free to express your own feelings, questions, assumptions, and guesses about the story, especially if you base them on references to the text. You should also be able to get some factual information about the author and the story from the enotes study guide. See reference links below.

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