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 would you describe the bond between the dog and the man after the second fire is doused in "To Build a Fire"?

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The bond between the dog and the man at this juncture is virtually nonexistent. In fact, we're specifically told that there is no real bond between them. What's more, there's no development in their relationship. The dog is the slave of the man and makes no effort to indicate his fears to his human master. Unconcerned with the well-being of the man, the dog looks toward the fire purely for its own sake.

Nothing changes after the man makes the foolish mistake of trying to light a fire beneath a tree whose boughs are weighed down by snow. Inevitably, the man's efforts to get a fire going fail, as each time he pulls a twig, the tree starts to shake and snow falls, landing on both the man and the fire.

While this is going on, the dog sits there in the snow the same as before, its tail curled warmly over its feet and its ears bent forward as it looks at the man. Freezing cold, the man can only look on in envy at the dog as it sits there warm and secure.

The man's predicament only serves to highlight the lack of any real connection between himself and the dog. They may only be a few yards from each other, but they might as well inhabit different planets: such is the nonexistent bond between them.

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