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TO BUILD A FIRE By Connor Baer First Semester Final Exam Mrs. Cristobal


Introduction To Build a Fire by Jack London is about a man who decided to travel alone, ends up facing life and death situation that considers his decision making. The situation due to the harsh cold weather that he’s facing and trying to fight his way out. What you will see in the book is the background knowledge about the author and historical setting along with plot, mood, and settings.


Biography: Jack London Single mother, absent father, just a boy who grew up in Oakland, California. Jack London read books to forget poverty and loneliness, the sea was his escape. At 15, he borrowed money, bought a boat and became an oyster pirate in the San Francisco Bay. He worked aboard a schooner that sails around North Pacific, as he came back home and only thing he had discovered is low paying manual labor. He sailed north at age of 21 due to his hearing of gold mining in Canada , inspired by the tales of the people telling the fierce cold weather and other stories up there. So he wrote about it as he returned to Oakland, becoming himself as America’s most popular writers. After his death on 1906, people today are still attracted to his stories.


Klondike Gold Rush The age of gold mining discovery, about 100,000 people made their way to northwestern Canada hoping to grab their luck for gold. Many people had died on their journey, the trip was dangerous, long, and really cold. People bringing hundred pounds of supplies, yet starvation and malnutrition was always an problem for them. The weather is what makes the journey worst of all, the winter temperatures tend to go -20 degrees. Thousands of people suffered the grueling journey and some of them made their luck to be wealthy, yet thousands who lost their lives trying to reach for gold. Only 30,000 had made it. http://content.lib.washington.edu/extras/goldrush.html


Mountain of Plot Rising Action: • “The extremities were the first to feel its absence. His wet feet froze faster, and his exposed fingers numbed faster, though they had not yet begun to freeze. Nose and cheeks were already freezing, while the skin of all his body chilled as it lost its blood” page 84 line 255-258 •His trying to make a second fire wasn’t much successful for him, as he is literally freezing. His body is too late to react his effort so he started to worry his possible outcomes.

Exposition: The man decides to travel alone, in search for gold. The setting is very cold snowy place. “He was surprised, however, at the cold. It certainly was cold, he concluded, as he rubbed his numb nose and cheekbones with his mittened hand. He was a warm whiskered man, but the hair on his face did not protect the high cheek bones and the eager nose that thrust itself aggressively into the frosty air.” page 78

Climax: He realized at the moment where it comes into a life and death situation, that’s the only chances he will get. “The old timer on Sulphur Creek was right, he thought in the moment of controlled despair that ensued: after fifty below, a man should travel with a partner” page 87 line 356-357 Falling Action: “It struck him as curious that he could run at all on feet so frozen that he could not feel them when they struck the earth and took the weight of his body” page 89 line 446-448. That’s where he started to panic and decided to run, hoping to save himself from freezing.

Resolution: “Then the man drowsed off into what seemed to him the most comfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known” page 91 494-495. It comes to a end where the man had frozen his body and died.

Theme: Mental defeat will destroy you.


Mood The author described in a very compelling mood of the man’s experience. I believe the story itself made it better is because the author had went to Canada and heard people’s stories about the gold rush. He was able to put in some experiences and sayings to fit the story in. Also the mood itself contributed the setting big time since it’s in the cold snowy places, and the man’s moods fitted the things he’s facing. The mood also brings up the suspense of the story, the author plotted a good sequence of events to make it sound more suspenseful to see what will happen at the end.


Mood “North and south, as far as his eye could see, it was unbroken white, save for a dark hairline that curved and twisted around the spruce covered island to the south, and that curved and twisted into the north where it disappeared behind another spruce-covered island.” page 76 line 16-20. It describes the setting itself yes, but it brings the mood by seeing the man’s sights. It’s pretty chilling to have that kind of feeling to be in white covered place and nothing else. “Running would not thaw them out. Nor would it thaw out of his hands and feet. Then the thought came to him that the frozen portions of his body must be extending, he tried to keep this thought down, to forget it, to think of something else; he was aware of the panicky feeling that it caused, until he was afraid of the panic.” page 90 line 458-462. It brings the mood of his panic situation, he is facing an life or death situation and the author is able to bring in words to fit in that kind of situation.


Man versus Nature Antagonist: opposite of the main character, intended to block the character from getting what they want. The story itself has a conflict but not between two characters. It’s between man and nature (the snow) so the nature plays as antagonist. Since the setting is really cold and normally humans would react with that type of weather, it applies with the main character but he is facing the situation alone. That way the nature is making him to get his body cold, made him panic, failed to start the second fire, and made him die. “Once in a while the thought reiterated itself that it was very cold and that he had never experienced such cold. As he walked along he rubbed his cheekbones and nose with the back of his mittened hand. He did this automatically, now and again changing hands.� page 80 line 111-114. That man is facing with that kind of harsh weather he had never experienced, that caused him to think things to keep himself warm other than his possible objective.


Man versus Nature “A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. This fear quickly became poignant as he realized that it was no longer a mere matter of freezing his fingers and toes, or of losing his hands and feet, but it was a matter of life and death with the chances against him.” page 89 line 430-433. That kind of thought is the nature had beaten the man from reaching out, his facing frustration didn’t complete him as a person at that point. Yet, just a sad thought of what’s going to come to him. At the end, the antagonist had won the battle. Protagonist couldn’t take it anymore but just fell on the ground and slept his life away. It brings to the setting acting like a conflict to the man, causing him to fail.


Connection I could connect to some of recent basketball games I’ve had, since my theme is mental defeat will destroy you. My team was on six game winning streak and last four games, we lost. Some of those games we could have won but our mentality wasn’t completely there so it led to losing some games. It applies to the man having an mental defeat causing him to panic and stuff, end up dying himself. Our team even panicked too, it puts us in some phase of stress which causes errors. But hey, we still have a long season to go so we will catch up with it.



To Build a Fire