To Build a Fire Questions and Answers
by Jack London

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What is the theme in "To Build a Fire"?

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There are several themes explored by Jack London in his classic short story, "To Build a Fire," but they all seem to center around the theme of Man Against Nature. The lone traveller--a "chechaquo," or newcomer--is warned against making the mistakes that befall him during the severe sub-freezing conditions. However, he neglects to heed them, only remembering the warnings after the tragedies occur. He is warned about travelling alone in such conditions and against treading on uncertain ice. He does so anyway, believing that his own preparation and skills (and possibly luck) will protect him. When he builds the fire under the snow-laden tree, however, his luck runs out. He finds out the hard way that Mother Nature does not differentiate between good or bad, young or old, human or animal.