To Build a Fire Questions and Answers
by Jack London

To Build a Fire book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the plot of Jack London's story "To Build a Fire."

Expert Answers info

carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2004

write1,291 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire” places man within the realm of nature at its worst.  Nature does not change to suit man nor does it attempt to hurt him.  It is the natural world.  Man must make the alterations to survive in whatever part of the natural world that he finds himself.  This is the conflict that the unnamed man faces: man versus 75 degrees below zero. This is the kind of weather that is not fit for man or beast.

The Plot

 A newcomer to the Yukon wants to travel to another camp several miles away.  He is warned by an old timer not to go and certainly not to travel alone.  The man gives no credit to what the more experienced man tells him.  He believes that he can cope with whatever happens and believes that he will be prepared for anything.

Instinct enters the story with the dog that accompanies the man.  The dog and the man are not companions.  The man does not feed or pet him.  The animal knows that the weather is too cold for travel. Trusting that the man will bring fire and food, it ignores its instinct and goes with the man.

The dog and man travel until it is noon, and the man fixes a fire and sits and eats his lunch. Then they travel on.  The newcomer is confident in his abilities. It is the Yukon trail, and there are hazards everywhere.  The man knows that he must be careful not to fall into any hidden springs and wet his feet. 

The man does make the wrong step and falls up to his shins in the icy water.  The dog gets his feet wet as...

(The entire section contains 581 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial