To Build a Fire Questions and Answers
by Jack London

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What happens to the man's second fire?

In "To Build a Fire," the man's second fire is extinguished when snow from a branch above the ground falls on it and smothers the flames.

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During the course of this short story, there are three fires—or rather, there are two fires and a third attempt at making a fire.

The first fire is at the creek's divide, where the man and his dog stop to eat lunch and warm themselves up. After continuing to walk through the treacherous weather, the man falls through ice, leading to his lower legs get soaked through. In order to get dry and prevent frostbite, he lights another fire, which is the second fire in the story.

A sudden movement, however, causes a branch above his head to drop a load of snow atop his second fire, extinguishing it at once. The sight of his second fire going out causes our protagonist to berate himself for his stupidity in having built his fire directly under a tree, thus making it vulnerable to the branches above.

He then tries to light a third fire in a new spot, but by this time, frostbite has taken control of his hands, and he is unable to light a fire a third time. After trying everything in his power to get some warmth back into his hands (including a cruel attempt to kill the dog), he surrenders to his fate and waits for death.

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