“To Build a Fire”

Fire gives off heat and light. With fire’s heat we are able to cook food. With fire’s light we are able to see in the dark. Fire, as we all know, is very important. Not only because of the two things­­––cooking food and lighting pathways––but also provides warmth during the cold season.“To Build a Fire” is a story, written by Jack London, reiterating the importance of fire especially during the cold months. But the story is more than that of the fire. The story is about man’s attitude in the face of real danger. The lead man was heading in a camp in Henderson Creek where the boys are in. He had a dog for a companion.The man was told by another man from Sulphur Creek that temperature in the way to Henderson Creek could go many degrees below zero. And that tremendous coldness can possibly occur. For this reason no man should travel alone. Though the lead man had a dog, a real man for a companion is most advisable in the cold seasons. First characteristic, our lead man did not follow instructions to his heart. The man from the Sulphur Creek already informed him of the possible danger of traveling alone, yet he traveled alone. He was also told of how cold it could be, but the lead man did not bring additional protection for himself against extreme coldness. In fact, he traveled light. Aside from the usual winter clothing, matches, and tobacco; all the man had is his biscuits wrapped in handkerchief. Second characteristic, our lead man has not prepared for his travel.Third characteristic, the lead man is helpful. In an attempt to avoid danger, the man shoved the dog in his suspected unbroken ice. In one instant, the dog broke the ice sheet ad wetted its forefeet and leg. The water has immediately turned to ice due to extreme coldness. Without thinking that his hands could get numb, he removed his mitten (right hand) to help the dog in removing the ice particles from its feet.Fourth characteristic, our lead man had skills on building fire. He knows how to start a fire, how to make it big, and how to sustain it. However, he did not consider the place where to put up the fire. He built the fire under tree because it’s easier to get twig when he is near the source of the twigs. Like an avalanche, the tree fell on the man and the fire thus putting off the fire. Fifth characteristic, our lead man wants to do things the easy way and with little knowledge on the whole process.Sixth characteristic, when the lead man failed, he re-do it. When he unexpectedly plunged into a broken snow and wetted himself up to his knees, he created his second fire, the one under the tree. When the tree that fell on the fire killed it, he built the third fire, this time in the open space. Same is true when the man started to run with his numb feet. He stumbled many times but continued to run until he fell.Seventh characteristic, the lead man entertained fear. Extreme coldness caused numbness. The lead man could no longer feel sensation in his feet. When he learned that his hands are also numbed as his feet, he started to panic. He even thought of killing his dog companion so he could bury his hands to restore their sensation. With numb hands he could not kill the dog. Fear intensified and caused him to run. He planned to run until he reached the camp. Fear had caused the lead man to give up all possible hope. He gave up. He died.Eight characteristic, the lead man has determination to reach the Henderson Creek. He wanted to be with the boys so even if he has no human companion, he traversed the land ignoring the disadvantages of traveling alone.Work CitedLondon, Jack. 2006. “To Build a Fire.” Read Print. 19 June 2008 <http://www.readprint.com/work-1063/Jack-London>.