To Build a Fire Questions and Answers
by Jack London

To Build a Fire book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire," can the weather and landscape be considered antagonists?

Expert Answers info

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire," I think the landscape and weather are antagonists.

There are two kinds of conflict: internal and external. External conflict consists of man vs. man; man vs. the supernatural (or God); man vs. society; and, man vs. nature. This last one would most certainly apply to London's short story. This is certainly the deadliest conflict the man in the story faces.

The author has used the weather (especially) to educate his audience as to the importance of building a fire in the cold in the Yukon. The cold is clearly described with the following imagery that details the tobacco juice the man is unable to spit: it freezes and then shatters like glass. This image gives the sense of "damage beyond repair."

...the man was chewing tobacco, and the muzzle of ice held his lips so rigidly that he was unable to clear his chin when he expelled the juice. The result was that a crystal beard of the colour and solidity of amber was increasing its length on his...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 1,159 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,994 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial