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At first glance, Jack London’s, “To Build a Fire” seems like a generic story about the sufferings and unfortunate mishaps that a man and his dog encounter on their trip through the Yukon Wilderness. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that this story not only tells the story of a man’s journey through the Yukon Wilderness with his dog, but it also compares instinct with knowledge and how each can affect survival ability in the wilderness. The protagonist, an unnamed man, has great scientific knowledge but does not know how to use his knowledge, especially in crucial times. On the other hand, the minor character, a wolf dog, does not have scientific knowledge but has survival instincts that directs his actions and keeps him alive. Throughout the story, there are many instances where the actions of the dog show that natural instinct is superior to human knowledge.From human advancement, exacts measurements can be determined. Temperature the degree of frost, time, and so much more can be determined and measured exactly. While knowing specific measurements can be very helpful in determining the best way to survive in the wilderness, not knowing the significance behind the numbers can ultimately lead to death. The main character of this story has great knowledge of the temperature and the degree of frost of his surroundings. He knows that he is currently walking in fifty degrees below zero weather. He knows that fifty degrees below zero means around eighty degrees of frost. He can feel the cold and experiences the discomfort. However, he neither comprehends what 50 degrees below zero means nor understands the importance of what he feels. Unable to grasp the fact that fifty degrees below zero is not walking weathe…

…ss. Even in matters of life and death, the man is unable to put his knowledge together and save himself, whereas the dog is able to rely on his instincts to bring him back to place where people will provide him with food and warmth. On the contrary, the dog reveals that it is better equipped to survive in the harsh wilderness because of its instincts and its ability to follow its instincts to safety and life. This story proves that not knowing how to incorporate the knowledge into daily life is dangerous and leads to risky behavior that can result in death. In these instances, Jack London proves that knowledge is not enough for survival. The knowledge must be understood and the significance realized in order for knowledge to assist in survival. Otherwise, instinct is a much better asset for survival.

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Works Cited

English book – “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

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