illustration fo a man in winter clothes lying on the snow under a tree with a dog standing near him

To Build a Fire

by Jack London
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What is the significance of the title, "To Build a Fire"? Could you please explain the significance of the title.

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"To Build a Fire" is an infinitive phrase, and so it is isn't a full sentence. Perhaps Jack London uses an infinitive phrase instead of a sentence as the title because it expresses the unfulfilled desire of the man in the story. Because he tries but fails to...

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"To Build a Fire" is an infinitive phrase, and so it is isn't a full sentence. Perhaps Jack London uses an infinitive phrase instead of a sentence as the title because it expresses the unfulfilled desire of the man in the story. Because he tries but fails to build a fire, he succumbs to the cold on a trip he was unprepared for. The object in the infinitive phrase, "a fire," is the only thing that could make the difference between death and survival for the man. He perishes in the attempt "to build a fire." Though London writes the story in the Naturalism movement without displays of emotion, there is a poignance in the title of the story as if it is the expression of the man's situation as he ultimately fails "to build a fire."

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The significance of the title is simple.  The book is about a man who embarks on a journey into the frozen wilderness.  He is advised to not make this trip and ventures to go anyway, seemingly unprepared.  The simple act of building a fire would keep the man warm and alive. 

The title symbolizes the simplicity of survival that the character is unable to achieve.  Since the man cannot maintain a fire to keep himself alive, the author uses this title to represent the conflict in the book, man vs. nature.  The man is revealed to be foolish and stubborn having brought very little in the way of supplies into the frozen wilderness.  

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