To Build a Fire: Character Analysis
The illustrious author Jack London journeyed to Alaska in 1897. Eleven years later, he wrote one of his most appreciated works, "To build a fire", based on his rich experiences in this sub-polar area. Although, at first sight, "To build a fire" appears to be a simple adventure story, the hero's end is rather puzzling. Actually, the finale paragraph takes aback: why is the main character suddenly desirous to die whereas he has strived to survive along the whole story? The man's intentions are not obvious at first glance. Nevertheless, traces can help the reader to discover the man's desire. The purpose of the subsequent analysis is to demonstrate that the man's character is a person with suicidal tendencies and therefore his plight is not the fruit of a thoughtless behavior.
Right after the first two paragraphs, which introduce the reader with a description of the situation, Jack London asserts that the man "was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances". This sentence's aim is to present the man's character as a person who does not realize the consequences of his actions.
However, the fourth paragraph proves he is far from being irresponsible. Indeed, the man's character conducts an experiment. He spits several times to verify that spittle "had crackled in the air". As a result, that test convinces the man that "undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below". Since he carries out experimentation and he is able to reach a conclusion, he confirms he can have a mature reflection and therefore he is responsible.
The next paragraph provides clues of his will to minimize his chances to achieve his travel. Actually, the man "was glad" to undertake a journey "without a sled, traveling light" whereas no evidence is given in the story that explains why this is an asset for him. The reader only knows that "a foot of snow had fallen since the last sled had passed over". The man...