To Build a Fire By Jack London

Who is “The Man” in To Build a Fire?
He is purposely not given a name, as the deterministic environment is more important that his free will and individuality.

What is the goal of “The Man” at the start of the story?
His goal is to reach camp to meet “The Boys” presumably prospect for gold.

Who is the dog and what does the dog represent in the story?
The dog represents pure instinct, a trait necessary for survival in the harsh Yukon. He uses its own natural advantages, fur, keen sense of smell and has an instinctive understanding of the cold.

What is the advice given to “The Man” at the beginning of the story by the old-timer?
The old-timer from Sulphur Creek warned him against traveling alone in the Yukon when the temperature is lower than 50 degrees below zero. The Man later understands the wisdom of the old-timer’s caution; that man is not instinctively fit for the harsh, indifferent environment of the Yukon.

How, according to London, does the dog know about the danger of the cold?
It has inherited knowledge of the cold.

What two words does London use in describing both accidents?
“It happened”

Where does the man get wet up to?
His knees

Why is the man initially angry about wetting himself?
It will delay him

What can the reader view the story’s title as?
An instructional manual

How does London describe the second accident?
as a “mistake”

How does London describe the tree’s avalanche?
as a “process”

How many matches does the man light at once?

Why does the man drop the matches?
He sees they are burning his flesh

Why does the second fire go out?
The man snuffs it out as he tries to protect it from a piece of moss.

What does the man plan to do with the dog after his second fire goes out?
Kill it and warm his hands inside it.

Why does the dog back away from the man when he tries to go through with his plan?
It detects fear in teh man’s voice.

Why is the man unable to go through with his plan with the dog?
His hands are too numb!

What does the man do after his plan with the dog fails?
HE runs to restore his circulation

What is the other goal of this second plan?
To reach the boys in the camp.

What is the problem with the man’s second plan?
He lacks endurance

What does the man envision as he nears death?
The boys and him finding his own dead body.

To what does the man compare his running, which feels almost like flying?
a winged Mercury

What does the man compare his undignified running to?
a chicken with its head cut off

To whom does the man address his dying words?
the old-timer

When does the dog decide to leave the man?
When its detects the scent of death.

What 19th century literacy movement is Jack London considered a part of?

How does this movement characterize the environment?
As harsh and indifferent

How does this movement view fate and destiny?
It believes in determinism

What class of characters does this movement tend to depict?
the lower class

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