Themes Themes and Colors Key LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in To Build a Fire, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. He is a solitary hiker. There is no sun in the clear sky, as this northern part of Canada has not seen daylight in several days at this time of year.
During his journey, the man gets his feet wet as he falls through the ice into the water of a hot spring London The word existentialist, as well as the subject of existentialism itself, evades definition. For the sake of brevity, perhaps a short, simple definition would be best; according to the American Heritage Dictionary 3rd ed.
At the conclusion of the story we finally see the man come to the realization, in a round about way, that it was best to meet his fate with dignity, thus giving meaning to an otherwise meaningless and cruel death. So it is no accident that at the heart of the story lies an existentialist theme.
London places his solitary human character in the perilous setting of the wilderness of the Yukon, which is enough to begin to illustrate his theme, but when London combines this unforgiving environment with the deadly cold of the Yukon winter, he creates a setting which is the epitome of the hostile, existential environment.
The remoteness of the Yukon wilderness, as well as the absence of a human travel companion for the man, serve to illustrate the existentialist idea that man is alone in the universe.
By not naming the character, London has placed him at an even greater distance from the reader within his deadly setting, thus isolating him all the more in a bleak and hostile universe. Imagery is an important element which London uses to illustrate and emphasize his theme.
Indeed, London does rely heavily on imagery to set the mood of the story, and in this way he draws a picture of the merciless environment his character must endure.
London also uses irony to illustrate and stress his existential theme. The man gets a further dose of the capricious and impassive nature of the universe when, after painstakingly starting a fire, the life-sustaining fire is ironically snuffed out by falling snow just as he is about to begin thawing out his freezing feet.
To preserve the existential theme of man being alone in an uncaring cosmos, the reader must not be confused by the presence of the dog as a traveling companion to the man; the reader must instead see the dog for what it really is—a further extension of the apathetic and uncaring environment.
The dog is not a sentient being as man himself is and cannot therefore be looked upon as being a kindred spirit who shares the bitter existence of the lone, lost soul who is the protagonist.
With his classic style, Jack London has created an exciting and unforgettably tragic tale which illustrates a modern philosophic theme.
London illustrates and emphasizes this theme in three ways: Master Craftsman of the Short Story. Utah State U P, An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Existentialism and Modern Literature. U of Minnesota P, To Build a Fire study guide contains a biography of Jack London, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
About To Build a Fire To Build a Fire Summary. “To Build a Fire” is an adventure story of a man’s futile attempt to travel across ten miles of Yukon wilderness in temperatures dropping to seventy-five degrees below zero.
him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned about fire, and it wanted fire. Otherwise, it would dig itself into the snow and find shelter from the cold air.
J a c k L o n d o n. The frozen moistness of its breathing had settled on its fur in a. "To Build a Fire" is a short story by American author Jack London. There are two versions of this story, one published in and the other in The story written in has become an often anthologized classic, while the story is less well known.
To Build a Fire study guide contains a biography of Jack London, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a . "To Build a Fire" is a short story by American author Jack London. There are two versions of this story, one published in and the other in The story written in has become an often anthologized classic, while the story is less well known.