To Build A Fire: Analysis Essay By Jack London

To Build a Fire: Analysis Essay

            In the short story, “To Build a Fire,” Jack London explores important themes about the duality of nature and mankind. He utilizes simile and metaphor, comparing the main character’s blood to a retreating animal, to depict the magnitude of the danger the man currently faces in the intense cold wild. Jack London does so in order to show that the unconquerable nature prevails over man, no matter how prepared or confident he is.

To Build a Fire: Short Story Analysis
To Build a Fire: Short Story Analysis

To Build A Fire: Analysis Theme Of Nature vs Man

Traveling through the freezing Yukon lands and attempting to build a fire, the man notes how his “blood of his body recoiled…The blood was alive, like the dog, and like the dog it wanted to hide away and cover itself up from the fearful cold” (London 6). “Recoil[ing],” the blood of the man is compared to a withdrawing snake that faces danger or in this case, the “fearful cold.” Through this metaphor, the man is so unbelievably cold that his inner, “recoiling” blood seeks protection from the relentless weather. Moreover, his blood is literally “alive,” and through the simile that compares the man’s blood to the dog that wishes to escape from this hellish environment, the blood is further elevated to the level of an animal with its thoughts and feelings. The “alive” blood of the man itself seems to have one adamant thought: “Get me out of here!” Also, because the blood retains such strong animalistic characteristic wants of retreat, it essentially embodies the man’s true wishes to hide from the undefeatable cold and further intensifies the panicking situation he currently is in. Although not explicitly admitted, the man’s desire for escape is so strong that his blood wants to “hide away and cover itself up,” illustrating the magnitude of the man’s internal danger and nature’s monstrosity that is so powerful and causes his blood to retreat in such a cowardly way.

Through the thematic use of the “alive” simile and metaphor, London shows the magnitude of nature’s power that prevails over man’s fight against it. As shown through the animal-like, retreating blood of the man, London further portrays nature’s atrocious power that causes the struggling man’s blood to even quake in fear. Revealing the helplessness of the man, whose internal blood even desires to retreat from the relentless weather and who struggles to resist the cold and build a fire, London finally shows that even if man is prepared and resistant to the forces of nature, nature will still eventually prevail and overpower man.

To Build a Fire: Short Story Analysis

Themes of To Build a Fire By Jack London

Summary of To Build a Fire Themes: The fierce and immense power of nature over mankind. Jack London also explores the struggles of man while confronting the true forces of raw nature, away from the security of mankind’s constructed societies and shelters

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