What wise and unwise decisions did the protagonist choose in "To Build A Fire?"I would like at least 3 wise and at least 3 unwise decisions of behavior and attitudes, when travelling in the harsh...

What wise and unwise decisions did the protagonist choose in "To Build A Fire?"

I would like at least 3 wise and at least 3 unwise decisions of behavior and attitudes, when travelling in the harsh northern climate, from the short story of "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. It would be a great help, thanks.

Asked on by sadaiko

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kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Honestly, I do not believe the protagonist made any wise decisions, although he had the right intentions at times.  Three unwise decisions that he made were: 1) not simply letting the dog lead him back to camp.  The dog could have easily lead him back to the camp had the man not been such a control-freak.  He clearly did not really care about the dog and even tries to kill it in order to gut it and stick his frozen hands inside of it.  The dog, at the end of the story, trots off towards camp after sensing that the protagonist has died; 2) trying to start a fire under a snow-filled tree.  Not smart!  The snow melted and fell, putting out the fire;  3)  not being prepared for the trip.  The man did not have on enough clothing and did not bring the appropriate food items and tools he might need if he got lost and/or stranded.

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holly-smith | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The main character in Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire," made many poor decisions.  His biggest mistake was to disregard the advice given to him by the old timer at Sulphur Creek:  never to travel alone when the temperature was more than 50 degrees below zero.  The temperature that day was actually 75 degrees below zero, and the main character headed out on his own, with only a dog as his companion.  The main character also was careless and failed to notice patches of thin ice along the way, which caused him to become wet up to his knees.  In the intense cold, his legs immediately began to freeze, and the only way to save himself was to build a fire and thaw out.  His third, and fatal, mistake was to build his fire underneath a snow-laden tree.  As his fire burned, he pulled branches from this tree.  The combination of the warmth and the aggitation of the snow-covered limbs caused a load of snow to be dumped from the tree onto the freezing man's fire, extinguishing it and his hope for survival.  Three decisions that could be considered as "wise" pale in comparison to his choices that were "unwise."  He dressed warmly, packed a lunch, carried a bundle of matches and thought enough to have a dog as his companion, but these four provisions: warm clothing, food, matches, and a dog did not protect him from his own ignorance, which eventually cost him his life.

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