What supplies did the man carry with him and how were they useful?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The man in Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" did not carry much with him on his trek through the Yukon. Believing that he would make it to camp with no problems, the man travelled very light.

In fact, he carried nothing but the lunch wrapped in the handkerchief.

This lightly loaded handkerchief only contained the following things:

He smiled agreeably to himself as he thought of those biscuits, each cut open and sopped in bacon grease, and each enclosing a generous slice of fried bacon.

The only other things he carried with him, outside of his winter-weather gear, were matches and his pipe and tobacco.

In the end, the man was able to use the matches, to light a small fire and his pipe, and eat his lunch. Unfortunately, in the beginning, his spittle-covered beard and body numbing cold prevented him from enjoying his lunch.

He had had no chance to take a bite of biscuit. He struck the fingers repeatedly and returned them to the mitten, baring the other hand for the purpose of eating. He tried to take a mouthful, but the ice-muzzle prevented. He had forgotten to build a fire and thaw out.

After he smokes the pipe, which offers the only moment of satisfaction for the man, he proceeds to light a small fire to thaw out his beard and the biscuits.

Unfortunately, in the end, nothing the man brought with him was able to aid him in his survival. The lunch had been eaten, the fire extinguished by snow which fell from a spruce limb, and the matches were of no use given the man's fingers were frozen to a point he could not strike them. The fall into the knee-high water would end the man's life.

 

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