illustration fo a man in winter clothes lying on the snow under a tree with a dog standing near him

To Build a Fire

by Jack London

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How does "To Build a Fire" reflect Jack London's personal adventurer experiences?

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I think it is fairly obvious to any reader of this excellent short story that Jack London is an author who knows his material well, and has not just researched it but has lived it. Jack London himself in his teens and twenties advetured extensively on sea and ice, prospecting for gold in the Yukon Territory and therefore new first hand the dangers of venturing out in sub-zero conditions and the kind of risks such people took. If we examine the story, it is full of small details that clearly indicate the way that the author's personal experience shaped his fiction. Consider the following example:

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.

It is clear that this reference is based on factual knowledge, and indeed this practice was very common among Arctic explorers. Such details and the realistic description again and again reinforces the way that London wrote not from the comfort of his armchair alone but based on the experiences that he himself endured as part of his adventuring days.

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In the story "to build a fire," by Jack London, how did he feel about his journey?

At the beginning, our protagonist felt that it really wasn't going to be difficult.  He felt confident enough that he ignored the advice of people he had to understand on some level knew more than him, ignored the clear misgivings that the dog was trying to show him, and didn't prepare in such a way that he demonstrated any worry about it.

Even as things start to go wrong and he realizes it is colder than he thought, he continues on, assuming that he can make it through.  When he has to try and light a fire to dry his clothes, he still believes that he will be able to make this work.

He descends rather quickly from there, almost into a madness as he realizes that he is not going to live through the ordeal.

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