In "To Build a Fire", why does the man command the dog to come to him?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This idea comes to the man after the final failure to light a fire - he has tried twice, but his hands are two frozen to be able to nurture and feed a fire effectively. As the man looks around "apathetically" he sees the dog and, as if he were grasping at straws, an idea comes to him which might enable him to survive the situation he has placed himself in:

The sight of the dog put a wild idea into his head. He remembered the tale of the man, caught in a blizzard, who killed a steer and crawled inside the carcass, and so was saved. He would kill the dog and bury his hands in the warm body until the numbness went out of them. Then he could build another fire.

However, there are a number of problems with this otherwise flawless plan - the dog detects that something is clearly up by the sound of the man's voice as he calls him, and then even when he does manage to entice the dog to come to him he realises that his hands were so frozen that he would not be able to kill the dog. Although this was a common practice among Arctic explorers to ensure survival, the man realises that he has passed even this stage - his future is looking bleak.