To Build a Fire by Jack London

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What is Naturalism, and how does Jack London's "To Build a Fire" represent it?

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Naturalism in literature refers to the idea that men are governed by an uncaring fate or an indifferent environment rather than by the will of a benevolent God or by their own moral agency. Jack London's "To Build a Fire" displays Naturalism through its deterministic themes, its representation of the environment, its emphasis on objective facts, and its subject matter. 

Determinism is an outgrowth of Naturalism which posits that man has no free will. Applying the ideas of Darwinism to humans, determinism argues that a person is shaped by his environment to such a degree that he cannot truly choose how he will act in a given situation. Thus the negative events that transpire in the man's day in the story are described as "his mistake" or an accident; London notes that "it happened." The man is not held morally accountable for his actions in the story.

The environment in the story is cold, not just in the sense of temperature, but in the sense of its indifference toward the man. Although...

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