In "To Build a Fire", what are the man's weaknesses and qualities that lead to his death?

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timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

In a word, his arrogance.  He ignores both the voice of experience (the old man) and the voice of nature (the dog).  He violates a basic premise of the world:  we are part of nature, not its rulers.

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

The man's weaknesses that lead to his death are several.  First, the man is not prepared for the extremely cold weather he faces on his journey, nor does he take enough supplies with him in case he runs into trouble.  He has not dressed heavily enough for the temperatures he will encounter.  He also does not take enough food, nor does he take any tools that he might need.  Also, he is stubborn. He does not let the dog take the lead when he should do so.  The dog clearly knows that they are lost, but the man makes the dog "listen" to him and directs the dog where the man wants to go instead of the other way around.  The man is also ignorant.  He does not respect the dog or the fact that the dog relies on instinct and is very familiar with the territory and weather.  

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alana150's profile pic

alana150 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

what is thepurpose of the man waking in the cold

 

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