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“To Build A Fire” is a clear example of naturalism and follows many of its conventions. Some of the characteristics of naturalism are being conditioned or controlled by the environment, having the world understood only through objective science, conflicts which bring out the instincts of man, pessimism, and presenting a viewpoint which is detached from the reader.One characteristic of Naturalism in literature is that the characters in a story are described as being conditioned or controlled by the environment in which they are in; in essence man versus nature. In “To Build A Fire”, the man travels in the Yukon at a bone-chilling 75 degrees below zero. The environment in this story is used to portray a harsh, unforgiving landscape that can ultimately control ones fate if they don’t take the necessary precautions as the man did in this story. He didn’t think the environment could pose such a danger that any situation he encountered in it would get out of his control. Even with the advice of an old-timer to the area who advised him to take a partner at 50 below 0. It illustrates that the environment may seem under ones control, but one should never let their own perception of control interfere with the realization of the reality that no one runs nature other than “mother nature”. This is not to say that the environment was set out to hurt the man, rather, the environment was indifferent to what was going through it and ultimately what happened to the man. In essence, nature is revealed in this story to have no heart, compassion, or emotions regarding its actions. In this quote nature can be seen to control an action which is out of the individuals control: “In a seemingly safe, solid spot, the man falls through the snow and wets h…

…teristic of naturalism is presenting a viewpoint that is detached from the main story, or in a 3rd person omniscient viewpoint. The author of “To Build A Fire” does this by not assigning names to any of the major characters such as the man or dog. This creates a detachment which helps the reader focus on not only the character, but the plot as well. The man in the story is seen as representing all of humanity, rather than as one individual. The concept of man versus nature is prominently at work here.To conclude, naturalism has many definitions and characteristics. It was a powerful movement which suggested the role and influence of the environment, one’s background, and one’s social status had in shaping human character. The major characteristics of it include the environments power or control over humans, objective science, instinct, pessimism, and detachment.

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