In "To Build a Fire," what are the three things the dog knew by instinct?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

We are told that part of the trouble with the man who is the protagonist of this story was that he could not "imagine"—that is to say, he could not imagine how it would really feel to be in temperatures as cold as these, because he was a newcomer in the land, but also because he did not really comprehend how fragile humans are. The man has instincts, but he does not really listen to them. By contrast, the dog is a creature governed by instinct, and it innately knows things the man should sense innately, but in fact disregards.

The dog, unlike the man, knows nothing about how temperature is measured, but it knows that the weather is too cold for traveling, and is worried by this. The dog "wanted fire," or else to burrow down into the snow and wait for it to warm up.

The dog also knows that it is dangerous to walk on thin ice because of the possibility of getting wet. When it is proven right, falling through the ice, it also knows immediately that it must bite...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 545 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on