"To Build a Fire" by Jack London.

Essay by cloudgalahad May 2003

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Abstract: In this essay, I intend to review the short story of To Build a Fire by Jack London in three aspects: the setting, the characters and my thought about the theme of this novel.

Instruction: since the main purpose is to present my thought about the theme of the story, I have no intention in wasting a lot of words on the useless summary of the novel downloaded form the Internet. Besides, discussion about the author Jack London is also skimmed, although it may be useful in the understanding of this novel. Instead, the background and characters is talked about first, which, I think, is important and helpful to understand this novel Then my viewpoint about the theme is naturally concluded. Here, I should mention that some essays and analyses about To Build a Fire in the net have been read before I wrote this essay.

1 The setting, the psychological time or place in a story

What impresses me most, when I read this novel in the first time, is the vivid description of the environment by the author.

"The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow. It was all pure white, rolling in gentle undulations where the ice-jams of the freeze-up had formed. North and south, as far as his eye could see, it was unbroken white, save for a dark hair-line that curved and twisted from around the spruce- covered island to the south, and that curved and twisted away into the north, where it disappeared behind another spruce-covered island."

These words present me a "dim and little-traveled" land, extreme cold, white and with no sign of life. As a boy from southeast China, I had no experiences and even...