Discuss Jack London’s To Build a Fire as belonging to the genre of Adventure Friction.
‘To Build a Fire’ by Jack London is a short story of an unnamed man and a dog in the Klondike region of the Yukon in north western Canada. It traces the man’s movement towards his death as he vainly attempts to travel across the Yukon trail in temperatures dropping to seventy-five degrees below zero. The dog, an inhabitant of natural surroundings, on the other hand survives. The man learns that at times human brain and technology is not as useful as the dog’s intuitive, ancestral understanding of how to stay alive in very cold weather.
Adventure is one of the prominent themes of the story as the man alone planned to undertake nine hour long journey in Yukon wilderness.The story is an adventure fiction, it refers to fiction that usually presents danger, or gives the reader a sense of excitement.
In story the protagonist is in constant threat of being overtaken by the wilderness.The unnamed protagonist of the story was filled with adventurous spirit. In spite of knowing the risks involved, he embarked on a nine hour exciting journey through Yukon wilderness without a trail mate.
The man was a newcomer who was unfamiliar with Klondike’s harsh winter landscape. Against the advice of an old-timer, the man undertook the challenging journey alone, except for a dog, and was “travelling light” on foot rather than by sled and carrying only a bacon sandwich, tobacco, matches, and some birch-bark.
From the beginning it was made clear that the nature was against the man’s chances of survival. Though the man did not meditate upon his physical frailty as a creature of temperature, he was started when his spittle crackled in the air. It was so cold that his nose and cheek-bones were numb, the juice that was being expelled from his mouth on chewing tobacco was instantlyfreezing, his fingers went numb when he unbuttoned his jacket and shirt to take out his lunch. It was in such deadly cold that the man’s adventurous spirit was at peak.
The man had several thrilling experiences while he journeyed through Yukon wilderness. He walked over the trail of snow, and plunged in among the big spruce trees. Moreover he observed and noticed the changes in creek, the curves and bends, and was cautious of the hidden streams under snow. He also studied the creek-bed and its banks, experienced numbness and excruciating pain in hands. Besides, wetting himself to the knees, building a fire for the second time land seeing it die, were thrilling experiences which made his journey adventurous, though these experiences also forced him to accept his fate and to die with dignity.
Thus, as of many London’s stories ‘To Build a Fire’ is undoubtedly an example of an adventure friction which were written to satisfy a reading public that was fascinated by tales of daring exploits during 20th century.
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