In "To Build a Fire," why did the man not follow the advice of the old timer from Sulfur Creek?
Throughout the story we are presented with the central unnamed protagonist and his arrogance and over-confidence. It is this, above all, surely that made him ignore the advice of the old timer in Sulfur Creek who is far more experienced than he is and has the respect and understanding of nature that the protagonist lacks. Again and again, throughout the story, the protagonist refers back to the old timer at Sulfur Creek and the advice that he had been given. Consider the following example after the fire was extinguished by the falling snow:
Perhaps the old-timer on Sulfur Creek was right. If he had only had a trail mate, he would have been in no danger now. The trail mate could have built the fire.
At each stage we see the advice that was given, such as this bit of advice, was sensible and wise, but at each stage, the man shows himself to be lacking in humility and understanding of the bleak territory he is entering:
He was a newcomer to the land, a cheechako, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.
For him, as a newcomer who had never experienced a winter at all, it must have been his own belief in himself and his abilities that caused him to ignore the advice from one so experienced as the old timer.