Intro to Literary Study (EL150, Sp 2006)

3 Feb 2006

London, ''To Build a Fire'' (online)

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Professor Jerz, thank you for choosing "To Build a Fire", for our class to read. We read this and watched the video in high school and it was so enjoyable, yet dealt with reality in many ways.

Posted by: Sarah Lodzsun at February 1, 2006 1:20 PM

Glad to hear it. I haven't seen the movie. Since much of the story happens inside the protagonist's head, yet the narrator comments on how blunt the man's thought's are, I can imagine the visuals and the clever use of close-ups and quick cuts to the dog's reactions could do a good job conveying the main idea. If you do talk about the movie, be sure to tie your thoughts to specific passages from the story.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 1, 2006 1:25 PM

Please check out my blog

Posted by: Andy LoNigro at February 2, 2006 12:07 AM

Of course, I think that this is a very sad story but I am also glad to what happened to the character and I tink that everyone has learned a lesson from this. The hiker was told many times that iot could get extremely cold outside on the mountain but he didnt listen. He shuld of dressed for the weather and he should of been more prepared. He was also told severeal times to never hike alone and when he was told that it says that he just laughed at the guys face. Well i dont think that he was laughing when he couldnt get a match lit or when he fell through the snow.. Huh? I think that he deserves what he got especially after he tried to capture and kill the dog just so he could stay warm. I was so relieved when the dog was let go. If he would of traveld with other people then he would of never of had to face the situations that he was in. (But that wouldnt of made for a good story.) He would of had someone there to help him build a fire and without any truoble he would of made it to the cabin. But I do like how the character was determined. Even though he basically knew that he was going to die because his legs were frozen along with almost half of hisbody and he was unable to move. He tried as ahrd as he could to bite a match and light a match.. He was even so determined to live that when his match was lit he let his hands continue to catch and stay on fire just because he didnt want the match to go out before it could catch the birch on fire. I wish that he would of had a relationship with the dog because I think that if they did have a relationship and that he was ncer to the dog I believe that the dog would of helped him out. He definately learned a lesson to listen to people and to dress for the occasion but it is for sure too late.

Posted by: Brittney Aller at February 2, 2006 3:17 PM

I see your point that he thought he had everything he needed to survive and could ignore the old-timer. In fact he called the old-timer a little girly if I'm not mistake. That's an integral part of the story, BUT I think we need to look at the conflict that's really going on inside the man's head. Perhaps he couldn't help traveling alone and was trying to catch up to the rest of the group. I mean up until a few unfortunate mishaps (like the snow on the tree)he would have been doing just fine. But, as we know without conflict there is no drama, so the events that happened really impacted the story even more.

In regards to the man having a relationship with the dog, I'm not so sure that the dog could have "helped him out" as you suggested. That may have added a little to the story if the man was nicer to the dog. But what I feel London was trying to get across with the relationship with the dog is that he's comparing them. He constantly shows that the man and the dog are thinking the same way. Neither of them really have emotions except for the will to stay alive. Here's an example where London is talking about the dog; "Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man's judgement."

Another example where he uses the dog as a way to show how the man really is, is in the following quote, "The man held steadily on. He was not much given to thinking, and just then particularly he had nothing to think about save that he would eat lunch at the forks and that at six o'clock he would be in camp with the boys." I mean how much more dog like can you be?

My point is, London didn't put the dog in this story to be the man's friend or to save his life. I think he used him as a tool to convince us even more, how much that man was reling on his instincts and his outdoor (animal) skills.

Posted by: Andy LoNigro at February 2, 2006 3:55 PM

Brittany, do you think that the fire resembled anything in the play? Did it relate to his journey, his pride, his determination or his life? I sort of think that this man was used to journeys like the one in the story, he was a risk taker and probably enjoyed every moment, even though the author never reveals that. But i think that this story makes people want to go on a crazy adventure, of course not one from where you would die, but to see if you could make it. How much are you ready to put on the line to complete one task, one journey. I think that this was a good story and that the author wanted it to spark something in your soul.

Posted by: Denamarie Ercolani at February 2, 2006 3:55 PM

You only live once, live it out to the fullest, is what the author was getting to.

Posted by: Denamarie Ercolani at February 2, 2006 4:06 PM

Posted by: Mike Rubino at February 2, 2006 8:26 PM

Posted by: Danielle Meyer at February 2, 2006 9:00 PM

Hey. The first thing I posted was my blog for Foster. Sorry I got confused lol, this is the actual blog.

Posted by: Danielle Meyer at February 2, 2006 9:05 PM

Topic: How to Build...Realism

Posted by: KevinHinton at February 2, 2006 9:35 PM

Okay, so I am posting this at 1:18 in the morning...but hey, Jerz said that WOULD be common, correct? I saw this movie and I the thing that really sticks out in my mind is Jack banging his wrist and hand against his chest. I also remember his motivation for keeping warm and although nothing seemed to go his way, he kept trying again and again. I'll admit, I was grossed out when he cut the dog open. I was angered because the dog was intended to be his friend. Isn't the dog a SYMBOL in this passage? The dog symbolizes a man's best friend....This could be argued both ways...I am sure it will be debated in class at 10:00!!

Posted by: Elyse Branam at February 3, 2006 1:22 AM

what are some examples of realism in this story? It says he was a naturalist writer, but what are some examples of naturalism and realism in it?

Posted by: Leah Steinbron at March 7, 2006 3:36 PM

okay. so i read that book, To Build a Fire, by Jack Londan and i have one question. That is, what are some symbols in this story? i can only come up with one and for homework, i have to think of like 5. so the only one i could think of was the fire. I thought the fire symbolized life. That is because the main character's only way to get through this journey is by fire. It is so cold outside that he needs to stay warm someway and since he is not dressed properly, he must use the fire as his only way to survive. I can't find any other symbols in this story. Please help me out!

Posted by: Ali at May 29, 2007 7:01 PM

Ali, did you read the comments on this page?

I'm not sure that coming up with a list of five symbols is a very useful homework assignment, but if that's what you're looking for, read the story and be creative.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at May 29, 2007 9:46 PM
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