Story explication of Jack Londons, To build a fire





Story explication of Jack London’s, “To build a fire”.

Jack London’s, “To build a fire” is a story about a traveler who sets to travel through the harsh Yukon trail. In his attempt to search for logs in the area, the man splits from the rest of his group despite warnings from the local natives. During his journey, he realizes that the weather conditions in the area are not ideal in that the temperature is 75 degrees below the normal temperature. This places him in a tough situation in that he has to successfully build a fire or succumb to the force that is nature (London, p.1- 240).

The purpose of this paper is to provide a story explication of Jack London’s, “To build a fire”. The paper generates a theme which is reflective of the tools that are observed in the story as whole. The paper finally offers a concluding paragraph summarizing its contents.

Theme of the story

The main theme of the story is based on survival. Human beings endure an enormous amount of challenges that pose as risks to their lives. They are thus forced to learn how to survive on a daily basis. The fact that the man is trapped in frozen wilderness alone makes him vulnerable to the weather conditions. The story focuses on the several attempts he makes to defy the odds so that he can leave the area alive.

Why did the author choose to write the story?

The author chose to write the story so as to explain the level of arrogance that humans tend to have. As stated earlier, the man refused to listen to the advice of his fellow travelers. The conditions in the Yukon are unsustainable for human life in that no individual should travel alone in this weather conditions. London educates readers on the repercussions of tempting fate due to the perception that man is in control of nature.

What message is he trying to tell the reader?

The message the author tires to tell me as a reader is that one should listen to the advice and opinion of other people. No man is an island; this simply means that human beings cannot depend on themselves if they are set on achieving any form of success.

Relationship of the theme and the tools used

Use of tone

The tone of the story is tragic. This is brought about by condition the man finds himself. He is trapped in a cold wilderness with no one to help him but his dog. The only way that he can survive is by building a fire. The weather conditions halt an attempt to build a fire which is his only hope for survival. The story reaches a new low when the man succumbs to the conditions of the Yukon. This proves to be tragic in that the all this happens in the presence of his dog.


The characters in the story are the man and his dog. The man is the main character in that the story is centered on his character. This is essential to the theme in that the story is based on survival. The fact that the man is alone in the Yukon makes him fight for his life due to the high possibility of death.

Point of view

The story has a remarkably strong message to readers. This is essential in that it enables the reader to gauge their own point of view. My opinion of the story is reflective of the theme that the writer brings out. According to Charles Darwin, when human beings are placed in a certain environment, they are tasked with the responsibility of adapting to the conditions of the environment. If the man was to get out of the wilderness alive, he had to adapt to the condition by building a fire. This in turn would increase his chance of survival in that his only option was to survive or die.


One of the main elements of the story is brought out through the use of imagery. This style emphasizes the key points that the writer intends to display. The language used suits the situation of the story. Due to the nature of the sad events that occur in the story, the writer uses low tones in the description of certain situations. This places emphasis on the situation at hand making the tone reflect on the theme. The language used is not as complicated which makes the book an easy read for any reader (London, p.1- 240).

In conclusion, Jack London’s to build a fire is one of America’s literature classics. The writer’s main intention is to emphasize on the relationship between human beings and nature. The fact that the man defied the warning of the natives gave him few choices on how to approach the matter. He eventually had to face the repercussions of his arrogance due to the fact that he succumbs to the harsh weather. Readers should thus use the book as an educating tool in that it has a strong message that is essential for the ultimate survival in society.

Works Cited

London, Jack. To Build a Fire and Other Stories. Stillwell, KS:, 2008. Print.