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"To Build a Fire" by Jack London

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by

Matt Wasson

on 16 May 2014

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Transcript of "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

Pepper the dog acts as a foil to the man, who is driven purely by will, and dies; whereas pepper is driven purely by instinct, and survives.
The protagonist in the story is the man.
The antagonist can be seen as nature, or more specifically the Yukon itself. The man is constantly in a battle of survival against the dangerous terrain and freezing weather.
Nomenclature is used to show how the man, not being named, is less significant in the scheme of things.
The point of view throughout is third person omniscient, since the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of both the man and the dog.
Characters
Elements
Before the man builds his last successful fire, we are shown a pile of snow upon a branch above the fire, this was foreshadowing the falling of the snow onto the fire later on.
Suspense was used to build tension as the man attempted to dry himself off. The scene intermediately focused on the melting snow to keep us wondering when it would fall.
The whole story demonstrated naturalism by showing the reality of trying to cross the dangerous wild alone. The occurrence of frostbite and the quickness with which death can approach one's self in nature all showed the reality that is most times forgotten.
Symbol
The greatest symbol is the fire which is seen to represent life, or rather survival. As long as the man had fire he would be okay, and the dog would stay because it knew the man could make fire; once there was no fire, the man died and the dog left because he knew where he could find fire and survive.
Plot Elements
Matt Wasson
"To Build a Fire" by Jack London
The setting for the story takes place in the far northwest of the Canadian Yukon, described in the beginning.
The rising action occurs over the majority of the film, as the man and Pepper attempt to cross the dangerous landscape to reach their camp.
The climax occurs when the snow pile falls on the fire destroying the man's last chance to get warm. The man is thrown into an emotional rampage as he tries to escape death.
The falling action spans the time the man spent running through the woods trying to reach the camp before he dies.
The only resolution we are given is after the man dies, the dog leaves for the camp alone.
Full transcript