To think or not to think... that is the question.

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London, Jack "To Build a Fire"

I really loved this story. Whether the reason is that I love the outdoors and spend much of my time there or because the storyline is about self-determination and sheer desire to live, I don't know, but something about it really struck me.

As I've already noted, I feel that London was really showing us self-motivation with this story. There is no dialog but there London constantly let's us into the man's head, inside his thoughts. This gives the idea that there is a lot of thinking going on, and with Foster's book in mind, the weather conditions really offer the reader to believe that this story is based on self-improvement. The man is indeed on a "quest." I really enjoyed all of the inner thoughts that London let us share with the man. I like being able to see what his motivations are and what he's thinking. And example of this is how the man is constantly fighting this imaginary battle with in his head with the old-timer on Sulphur Creek.

"The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must trabel alone in the Klondike after fifty below. Well, here he was; he had had the accident; he was alone; and he had saced himself."

The other key point that entered my mind while reading this story was the connection between the main character here and Hamlet. Yes, you're probably asking yourself; "where did he pull this one from?" But I have a point, I do.

"Such were his thoughts, but he did not sit and think them. He was busy all the time they were passing through his mind."

Here is a man of action. Here is a man that puts down the negative in his own mind and makes does something, whether it's right or wrong, he puts himself in motion. Hamlet on the other hand was a man of questions and guilt. He was never sure if he was right or wrong and because of that he never acted on his gut feeling. Hamlet was a hestitator (? I just made that up) and a thinker. He was a learned man, and he tried to use that knowlege to his advantage. The character in this story may or may not have been an educated man, but he knew how to survive as long as he did in the wild. So what's the point? Well, I really don't know because in the end, both men died. So the real question is, is it better to sit around and let inactiveness kill you, or go down swinging? I chose to go down swinging I don't know about you.

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3 Comments

This story ws definately about motivation like you said.. but he wouldn't of had to be soo determined to live if he would of listened to the people that told him what to do in the first place. The old man told him to never go alone and it was too cold.. etc. But he never listened.. in my opinion he was too stubborn and to eager to do things his own way. I think that he got what he deserved. I didnt feel sorry for him at all.

I can see your point Brittany, but that's really my point too. This story was about a man who learned something... it just happened to be that he learned he was wrong and that he didn't know everything. I never said I felt sorry for him.

Excellent points, Charge.

I believe he was definitely self-motivated, but should have taken more precautions before going on the journey. It would be interesting to see how the story would have turned out had London made the man survive. I was really anticipating him chopping up the dog and sleeping in the carcass or something.

Now that would have been cool.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy published on February 1, 2006 11:47 PM.

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