The struggle between man and nature is a common theme in a lot of literary pieces. Some exaggerate the role of either nature or man; however, this tale exposes weaknesses of both sides and provides an interesting twist. Through the use of both flat and round characters, involved in a specific life changing event, will lead to a role reversal that proves nature will truly win out over nurture in some situations. Mr. London involves the reader and prepares the plot through specific uses of Character, Point of view and demonstrates his view on which will be the victor.
The two characters in this story are the old man and his wolf breed sled dog. The stories is told from the man’s point of view and immediately display him as the master of his situation. This character would be considered round because of the three dimensional aspect in which he describes him. He has a past, in which he describes him being new to the area. Because he is a green horn he isn’t sure of the risks that particular wilderness holds. Regretfully, he is also ignorant stating, “The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert of things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significance” (London 1058).
The character is presented in a fashion so that the reader can sympathize with his predicament. At the time when this story was written, their still exist those that remembered untamed frontiers the posed risk and danger to the average man, but this was no average man. He was an entrepreneur and explorer. The character was constructed with the same stuff the most Americans felt they were constructed with. However, he is flawed and his flaws are those provided to him by his parents, in his genes. …
Jack London is known for his ability to bring to light the fact that nature will overcome. This story specifically points out the dog’s ability to overcome through superior breeding for such environments. The man, or any man, cannot always think themselves out of situations; sometimes our genes are essential to survival. The animal in this story is an anti-hero of sorts, designed to change perspectives of how we view our animal companions. Through the use of dynamic characters, different point of views and harsh and seemingly unbeatable situations, Jack London, provided a believable scenario, in which man’s vulnerable nature is exposed.
London, Jack. “To Build a Fire.” The Norton anthology of American literature. Ed. Baym, Nina, Jeanne Campbell Reesman, and Arnold Krupat. 7th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2007. 1057-67. Print