There are several recurring themes that run through Jack London's "To Build a Fire." All of them relate in some manner to the chechaquo's battle against the elements and the way in which he eventually confronts death at the end. The newcomer makes many mistakes during his fateful final journey, the most important being his refusal to follow the advice given to him by the "old-timer on Sulphur Creek."
The old-timer on Sulphur Creek was right, he thought, in the moment of controlled despair that ensued: after fifty below, a man should travel with a partner.
The newcomer failed to recognize that what seemed to him like friendly advice was really information that would protect him the cruelest situations that Mother Nature may present.
It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty... and upon man's frailty in general... and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man's place in the universe.