To Build a Fire

A man with no imagination at all traveling alone in the Yukon. “ To Build A Fire” is a short story based upon a time before technology took over the world and the environment around us, the story is located in a very gloomy and arctic venue. The unnamed man chooses to travel unprepared through the fields of snow out of his own greed. This story is based on the fraitality and pride of man.


The story takes place in the Yukon territories during a frosty winter day. The climate is deadly yet a man, despite many warnings, dares to venture alone into the vast openness of the countryside. Out in the wild, the temperature is below -80 degrees and the story is written about a time before much technology was invented to help endure the cold weather. The fact that the man is substantially unprepared does not help his situation either, obviously. This part of the story can relate to people in everyday life because, despite the countless warnings we get, we always assume that we know what is best for ourselves which can sometimes lead to deadly consequences.


The man decides to travel alone and to pack lightly, ignoring many warnings from a much more experienced older man. The story explains that the man is a newcomer to the area but not to the cold, meaning that he has experienced some coldness in his life but probably nothing compared to the situation he faced presently. All that the man chooses to bring with him is a dog for companionship and some buns with gravy. The man chooses to treat the dog poorly, almost as if it is an unworthy companion. This is comparable to a wolf being captured and turned against its own instincts, being forced to obey man’s commands even though they have better natural survival instincts.


The man faces death in the end caused by his own greed and ambitions. The man chooses to look at an old mining prospect because he wants to make money, and does it alone because he probably wants to keep his findings to himself so he wouldn’t have to split the profit. The man’s pride gets in the way of his survival. He believes that he knows everything, he ignores the old man’s warnings, he is proud of himself for the time he makes and, he ignores the dogs’ instincts, ultimately leading up to him freezing to death.


The main character faces a man vs self and man vs nature conflict throughout the story. He attempts to overcome his self-made conflicts and fails. The fact that he was so unprepared to face the frigid temperatures made his chance of survival nearly impossible. Maybe if the man had not been so prideful and vain the outcome of the story could have had a different ending.

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