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To Build a Fire by Jack London

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Published: Jan 30, 2024

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Analysis of the setting, characterization of the protagonist, theme of survival and nature's indifference, symbolism and imagery.

  • London, Jack. "To Build a Fire." 1902.
  • Runkel, Tom. "Jack London's 'To Build a Fire': Epistemology and the White Wilderness." The Centennial Review, vol. 36, no. 4, 1992, pp. 483-499.
  • Boulton, Agathe. "Reading Jack London's To Build a Fire with Sartre: Existentialist Roots of Ecocriticism." The Explicator, vol. 73, no. 4, 2015, pp. 251-254.

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to build a fire conflict essay

to build a fire conflict essay

To Build a Fire

Jack london, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jack London's To Build a Fire . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

To Build a Fire: Introduction

To build a fire: plot summary, to build a fire: detailed summary & analysis, to build a fire: themes, to build a fire: quotes, to build a fire: characters, to build a fire: symbols, to build a fire: literary devices, to build a fire: quiz, to build a fire: theme wheel, brief biography of jack london.

To Build a Fire PDF

Historical Context of To Build a Fire

Other books related to to build a fire.

  • Full Title: To Build A Fire
  • When Written: Revised between 1902 and 1908
  • Where Written: Jack London’s ranch in Glen Ellen, California
  • When Published: 1908
  • Literary Period: Naturalism (Realism)
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Setting: The Yukon Trail, Canada
  • Climax: Snow suddenly falls from a tree and puts out the man’s fire he built after falling into the water. From that point onward, his rapidly freezing body prevents any attempts at survival.
  • Antagonist: Nature, cold weather
  • Point of View: Third-person omniscient

Extra Credit for To Build a Fire

1902 version. An early version of “To Build A Fire” was published in 1902 in a magazine called The Youth Companion . In that version, the man survives.

Film adaptations. Four film adaptations of the short story have been released, including an animated version (2016), a perhaps surprising choice for a grim story that ends in death.

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To Build a Fire

By jack london, to build a fire summary and analysis of part i.

First Part Summary:

A man turns off from the main trail in the Yukon (in Alaska) on an extremely cold, gray morning. He surveys the icy, snowy tundra. The cold does not faze the man, a newcomer to the Yukon, since he rarely translates hard facts, such as the extreme cold, into more significant ideas, such as man's frailty and mortality. He spits, and his saliva freezes in mid-air, an indication that is colder than fifty degrees below zero. He shrugs it off; he is going to meet "the boys" by six o'clock at the old claim near Henderson Fork. He has taken an alternate route to examine the possibility of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon. He feels his lunch of biscuits inside his jacket, warming against his skin.

The man walks through the thick snow, his unprotected cheekbones and nose feeling numb. A husky wolf-dog follows him, instinctively depressed by and apprehensive of the cold. Every warm breath the man exhales increases the ice deposit on his beard. He passes over more terrain to the frozen bed of a stream, ten miles from his destination, where he plans to eat lunch. The faintness of the last sled-trail in the snow indicates no one has been by in a month, but the man pays it no mind; still, he occasionally thinks that it is very cold, and automatically and unsuccessfully rubs his cheekbones and nose to warm them. He realizes his cheeks will "frost," and wishes he had prepared for this, but decides that frosted cheeks are only painful and not very serious.

Though the man does not spend much time thinking, he is observant of the curves and the possibility of dangerous springs in the creek as he wends along it. If he crashed through one, he could potentially get wet up to his waist, and even wet feet on such a cold day would be extremely dangerous. As he continues, he avoids several springs. At one point, suspecting a spring, he pushes the reluctant dog forward to investigate. The dog 's feet get wet, and it instinctively licks and bites at the ice that forms between its toes. The man helps the dog, briefly removing his mitten in the numbing cold.

A little after noon, the man takes out his lunch. His frozen beard prevents his biting into it, and his fingers and toes are numb, so he decides to build a fire. He thinks about the man from Sulphur Creek who gave him advice about the cold; he scoffed at it at the time. He takes out matches, gathers twigs, and starts a fire. He thaws his face and eats his biscuits. The dog warms itself near the fire. After, the man continues up a fork of the creek. The dog wants to remain with the fire or at least burrow in the snow, but since there is no "keen intimacy" between the two, the dog does not try to warn the man for his own sake; it is concerned only with its own well-being. Still, it follows the man.

" To Build a Fire " is the quintessential naturalist short story. Naturalism was a movement in literature developed largely by Emile Zola, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, and Jack London in the late 19th-century. Its major themes (which will all be explained and explored in greater depth here) are determinism over free will; the indifference of the environment; survival; absence of moral judgment; instinct over intellectualism; a fascination with processes; the emphasis of narrative over character; depiction of characters in the lower classes; and more realistic language befitting such characters and settings.

"To Build a Fire" reveals much about itself and its naturalist origins in its title. "To Build a Fire" sounds almost like an instruction manual, and the story does, indeed, teach the reader how to perform various acts, such as building fires, avoiding dangerous springs, and navigating a creek. As in Herman Melville's Moby Dick (not considered a naturalist novel, but it shares many of the same concerns), where the reader learns all about whale hunting, the reader leaves the story with a sense of the processes at work in its world. We see other processes in effect, too, such as the layers of snow and ice that have built up in the Yukon, or the ice that accumulates on the man's beard.

The title also implies the need for survival. London might have (unwisely) given his story the unpleasant title "To Survive, You Need To Build a Fire." Naturalism is interested in the deep conflicts that bring out the brute instincts of man. London's story provides one of the oldest conflicts in literature and life: man versus nature. The man is at constant risk of freezing in the brutal cold, and soon mere survival, rather than the prospect of finding gold, will become his preoccupation.

The man is clearly not an experienced Yukon adventurer. He ignores all the facts that indicate danger--he underestimates the cold, he ignores the absence of travelers in the last month, he de-emphasizes his soon-to-be-frostbitten cheekbones. Again, processes are important: he does not make any mental processes, taking facts and assigning them increasing significance. While this may seem at first like an intellectual deficit, what the man truly lacks is instinct--the unconscious understanding of what the various facts mean.

The dog, on the other hand, is pure instinct. While it cannot intellectualize the cold as the man can, assigning numerical values to the temperature, it has "inheritedŠknowledge" about the cold. Without thinking, the dog knows the cold is dangerous, knows the spring is risky, knows to bite at the ice that forms between its toes, and even knows not to get too close to the fire for fear of singeing itself.

While the main conflict is man versus nature, it would be inaccurate to say that nature actively assaults the man. Nature does not go out of its way to hurt the man; it would be just as cold without the man's presence, as well. Rather, the environment is indifferent to the man, as it frequently is in naturalist literature. The bitter environment does not aid him in any way, and it will not notice if he perishes. In the same way, the dog does not care about the man, only about itself.

Even London does not seem to care about the man too much--or, more precisely, he does not make any overt moral judgments about the man. He merely conveys the objective facts, pessimistic though they may be about the man. For instance, in describing the man's inability to make mental leaps, London only states "That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head." London never denounces outright the man's foolhardiness; his most aggressive comment, "The trouble with him was that he was without imagination," is only a suggestion that the man will encounter trouble because of this deficit.

Likewise, London maintains an air of neutrality with his prose, objective and reportorial. He focuses mostly on the narrative and little on the man's interior world and history--indeed, we never even know the man's (or the dog's) name. He is less an individual and more a representative of all humanity, especially humanity up against nature. Also in keeping with the naturalist tradition, the man is obviously not a member of the upper class. Like "the boys," he hopes to strike it rich by prospecting for gold, as did many during the Yukon Gold Rush in the late 19th-century, or even by selling logs.

One major point of naturalism not discussed yet is determinism. It will become more important in the next part of the story.

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To Build a Fire Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for To Build a Fire is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

The author’s descriptions of the cold weather suggest that —

A. the cold should never be underestimated.

what motivations do the man's thoughts reveal? how could these lead to a dilemma that advances the plot

The man has hubris or pride. He thinks that he can outsmart nature and make it to the boys at Henderson Creek. He thinks he knows better than his very apprehensive husky and the old timer's advice. If the man respected nature he would have...

. Works of naturalism often address the theme of survival of the fittest. Give examples that show how London’s story develops this theme. What message does the story convey about the survival of the fittest?

Jack London specialized in stories about the wilderness. His running theme involved the raw majesty and power of the elements. Naturalism was London's mantra and this story is a perfect example of this. In "To Build a Fire" the setting is in the...

Study Guide for To Build a Fire

To Build a Fire study guide contains a biography of Jack London, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About To Build a Fire
  • To Build a Fire Summary
  • To Build a Fire Video
  • Character List

Essays for To Build a Fire

To Build a Fire literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of To Build a Fire.

  • Chain-smoking: Causality in "To Build a Fire"
  • Realism: Compare and Contrast
  • Literary Naturalism: A Comparison of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and To Build A Fire
  • Our America: The Abiding Question of Nation and National Identity in American Literature
  • A War Against Nature: Instinct in "To Build a Fire"

Lesson Plan for To Build a Fire

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to To Build a Fire
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • To Build a Fire Bibliography

E-Text of To Build a Fire

The To Build a Fire e-text contains the full text of To Build a Fire by Jack London.

  • Full Text of To Build a Fire

Wikipedia Entries for To Build a Fire

  • Introduction
  • 1908 version plot
  • 1902 version

to build a fire conflict essay


To Build a Fire | Summary and Analysis

Summary of to build a fire by jack london.

Summary and Analysis of To Build a Fire by Jack London

             To Build a Fire,  a tale of man’s struggle against nature by Jack London sheds some light on various aspects of the human condition and man’s place in the universe. It follows the icy, Arctic journey of a man and his dog in a cold and harsh setting of the Yukon territory in Canada. The hardy man resolutely carries on his journey, fuelled by his unmovable and almost unwarranted determination to reach his destination. Unfortunately, his iron-will and his lack of self-assessment leads to his untimely death, as shall be seen later in the course of analysis. Like most of London’s works, the setting plays a crucial role in determining the entire structure of the story. To Build a Fire is a great example of London’s craft whereby the plot is furthered by the setting and vice versa. The pace of the story almost mimics the pace of the man’s journey and with each step we get a clearer picture of the the unnamed character who can be seen as representative of humans in general. The dog, with its instinctive discretion is set as a foil to the man’s rational recklessness. Writing within the Naturalist tradition,  the cold, calculating man is contrasted with the dog who constantly seeks warmth and is instinctive in nature. By the end of the story, we see that it is the dog which survives and the  man who dies- all because he has failed to build a fire.

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To Build a Fire Summary

The story opens in a cold, harsh setting   where a man has turned aside from the frozen Yukon river and is on his way to the Old Claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek .  It is 9 o’clock and the man is determined to get there by six in the evening. Despite the man’s determination and his certainty about things, the narrator gives a sense of  immensity of the area and the limitless expanse of the setting against which the man is pitted and in which he is just a minute dot :

This dark hair-line was the trail-the main trail- that led south five hundred miles to the Chilkoot Pass, Dyea and salt water; and that led north seventy miles to Dawson, and still on to the north a thousand miles to Nulato, and finally to St. Michael on Bering Sea, a thousand miles and half a thousand more.

All this makes no difference to the man for we are told that by nature, he is   receptive only to the  facts and  is blind to its consequences : he is “quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in their significances.”

Disregarding the advice of the old-timers , the man is traveling without a mate . His only companion is a   wolf-dog and their’s is not a relationship of love and trust but rather one based on self interest. The man shows no love towards the dog which could possibly be returned. The dog is the “ toil slave ” of the man who in turn is just another  “ fire provider ” for the dog.

After reaching Henderson Creek at ten, he decides to make it to the Fork by twelve and eat his lunch over there. At one point in his journey, he shies abruptly “ like a startled horse ” on hearing the ice under him crack : the thin sheet of ice hides pools of water and falling into one could mean death by freezing.

Once, on suspecting a similar trap, the man  compells  the dog to move forward. The dog is hesitant to do so but the man forces it to move on. It runs quickly across the white unbroken surface, suddenly breaks through the ice before picking itself up again to escape the danger. The water on its paw immediately turns to ice and the dog begins licking it off.

The two resume their journey. They reach the Fork exactly at twelve-thirty. The man decides to eat but then realises he must first thaw the ice-muzzle  formed over his mouth by lighting a fire. After thawing the ice , he sits down to eat his meal . The fire is lit and he enjoys his meal in its warmth while the dog stretches itself near the fire “ close enough for warmth and far enough away to escape being singed “. The dog, unlike man, clearly knows its limits. Soon, the man sets off again but the dog is rather  unsure about it. Nevertheless, it doesn’t strive to communicate this concern  to the man as there is no intimacy between the two . For about half-an-hour nothing untoward takes place. Then, out of the unknown, disaster strikes : the man breaks through the thin ice and wets himself halfway down the knees before he can pull himself out. Aware of the dangers a wet foot can invite, he begins building a little fire with a shivering frame and numbed fingers.Finally, the man finds some trunks of several small spruce trees and decides to build his fire under one by lightning a small shred of birch-bark. A little fire is evinced.

However, disaster again strikes when least expected :  the branches of the tree under which he built the fire had been fully loaded with snow, and each time he had pulled a twig, a slight agitation had reached the branches. This leds to a terrible disaster which the man hadn’t foreseen at all :

 High up in the tree one bough capsized  its load of snow. This fell on the boughs beneath capsizing them. This process continued, spreading out and involving the whole tree. It grew like an avalanche, and it descended without warning upon the man and the fire, and the fire was blotted out!

What follows next is a painstaking struggle to light the fire  again. Try as he may, he fails to strike the matches with his numb fingers . He then attempts to set it alight by holding the matches in between his teeth . Despite succeeding in lighting the match, the smoke enters his lungs causing him to cough spasmodically. The matches fall and fizzle out. He presses the bundle of matches between the heels of his hands and sets it alight. But again, the fire eats into his flesh and starts burning  until he can no longer endure it. The matches fall to the ground but the birch bark is finally lit . He then proceeds carefully to feed the fire with more twigs. However,  a large piece of moss falls on the fledgling fire and in a bid to remove it, the man’s shivering fingers poke it too far,  disrupting the core of the little fire which finally goes out . The man is doomed. In utter desperation, he looks at the dog and gets reminded of another man who  saved himself from freezing by killing a deer and crawling in its carcass. He gets a ruthless idea of killing a dog and using its carcass for warmth. He crawls towards the husky and the dog backs off, sensing danger. The man  stands up and calls the dog in an authoritative tone. He then lunges at the animal and attempts to hold him but soon realises that his lifeless hands will not be able to kill it. After lying in an awkward position with the dog for sometime, the animal frees himself and stays at some distance.  It is then that an actual fear of death gets hold of him . With great effort, he manages to get up and start running and the circulation of blood  provides him some warmth . However he soon becomes drained of energy and falls headlong. This process is repeated for sometime until he can no longer keep up the struggle. He then decides to face his death with dignity and begins imagining his death: of how his friends will come to carry off his lifeless body.

Slowly, he drowses into a deep sleep, a sleep that will last forever. The dog stands there for sometime waiting for the man to rise. With the advent of twilight it goes near the man, gets the scent of death and backs off. Finally, it turns around and trots off  in the direction of the camp in search of other food  and fire providers.

To Build a Fire Analysis

Jack London’s To Build a Fire has been hailed as the exemplary naturalist short story and no sound analysis of the story is feasible without taking into account the 19th century literary movement of Naturalism . Coined by the French novelist Emile Zola , Naturalism was a literary movement which took a  scientific approach to literature and a lot of its features can be seen in To Build a Fire. Some of these features of this school included scientificity , an obsession with understanding the mechanisms of natural events, prominence of the narrative , amorality , detached observation , the primacy of the instinct ,  representation of the working class and man’s treatment as a biological subject.

  It is also  worth remembering that Jack London had a  first-hand experience of the rigours of the cold Klondike setting while embarking on a number of expeditions for prospecting gold. The Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899)   attracted a lot of working class men with a promise of making a fortune and  London sure was one of them. This personal experience of London definitely adds to the realistic portrayal of the cold, harsh setting.

To Build a Fire is story with a theme as old as the origins of man. At the heart of the story is the one of oldest struggles we know of: the ancient struggle of man versus nature . It is a story of a struggle for survival, survival at all costs. The story depicts a struggle that is rough,  raw and real.

The story is narrated in the third person by an omniscient narrator . In line with the Naturalist tradition, the narrator maintains a detached tone throughout the story, rarely presenting his opinion about the man and his actions. The speaker merely reports the action as a good naturalist speaker should. The protagonist of the story is in the Yukon territory of Canada, travelling in freezing  temperatures. He hasn’t been given any  name . He is just a specimen that is placed in the experimental setup of a Naturalist story. His namelessness is the hallmark of Naturalism for it allows the narrator and the naratee to maintain a detached distance of an observer and prevents either party from attaching any emotion to the character, lest it interfere with the results we infer.

The harsh conditions and the risky nature of the Gold Rush mostly attracted those who were willing to risk their lives to make some money and the one who did mostly came form the working class . The man, who has risked his life prospecting for logs in such a harsh climate seems to belong to working class as well.

Again in line with the Naturalist tradition, the  story is quite obsessed  with facts  and figures. The process of building a fire, the natural processes of formation of ice sheets and the description of the dangers of unfrozen streams beneath the layers of snow is done with great precision. This obsession with facts and figures is also visible in the precise time registered by the watch, precise temperature recorded, the exact number of matches with which the fire is lit and several other instances.

The story opens with the man skirting off the main Yukon trail and taking a “ dim and little-travelled trail ” where “ a foot of snow had fallen since the last sled had passed b y”. One may take the road not taken. But not in the Arctic tundra. The man learns this the hard way. The mysterious trail, the freezing temperatures, the absence of sun, none of these factors have an impact on the man. It isn’t even the case that he’s got it all covered. For all we know, he is a chechaquo , a novice , a first timer . And this is his first winter . He is determined to make it to an old claim on the left form Henderson Creek where ‘the boys’ have already reached. Keenly observant of the environment around him, the man is obsessed with facts. He knows it is cold but he  is confident that he’ll make it. He hopes it is fifty . It is seventy five below zero . The man’s instincts aren’t developed enough to process information that aren’t based on data.

Fifty degrees below zero was to him precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more than that was a thought that never entered his head.

We are  thus  given to understand that he values empirical knowledge over experiential knowledge which later proves to be fatal for him . The experience of the old-timers will be of greater use than any precise thermometer whether it is fifty of seventy-five below zero. But this is not what he thinks. Instead, he scoffs at the experienced men whom he considers ”rather womanish”. Despite this being his first winter in the region, he disregards the advice of the Old Timers that one must always  travel with a partner in such circumstances. His dangerous male chauvinism tells him that “ Any man who was a man could travel alone “. We later see that he travels alone only to die alone.

Trotting behind him is a wolf-dog who instinctively knows that venturing in such a terrible cold is a bad idea. And the dog is right:

But the dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge. And it knew that  it was not good to walk abroad in such fearful cold. It was the time to lie snug in a hole in the snow and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of outer space when this cold came.

The abovementioned lines not only depict the immensity of nature but also the real cause of such  cold. The cold which cripples every life form is actually the cold of space. Considering this fact (which the dog knows very well), the line “ there was not a cloud in the sky ” in the opening of the story actually carries an ominous sign. An open sky in the Yukon is actually something to be worried about. It must be noted that nature isn’t represented as being ruthless to the man. It isn’t malevolent and doesn’t have anything personal against the man. Naturalism saw nature as an indifferent, disinterested force . The cold setting would’ve killed any another reckless man in pretty much the same way.

The mental faculties of this man is limited to registering facts. He doesn’t know how to translate those facts to useful information. He lacks, what the speaker calls “ imagination “. What substitutes for this lack of imagination is a sense of ‘certainity’. He’s certain that he will make it despite the cold and reach the boys on time. It is this ‘ certainty ‘ that does him in for he thinks he knows but actually doesn’t and therein lies his folly. Instances of his ignorance abound in the story : He is ignorant of the fact that it is seventy five below zero, the ice gives in at a point where he’s certain of his safety and his surety on his endurance makes him fall headlong while trying to run away from death.          

         To Build a Fire derives its impact from a host of literary devices effectively deployed by London to achieve literary finesse. The fate awaiting the man is hinted throughout the story by the literary device of foreshadowing .

The fate of the man  especially vis-a-vis  that of the dog is foreshadowed time and again throughout the story. We are told that the hair on the man’s face “ did not protect the high cheek-bones and the eager nose that thrust itself aggressively into the frosty air”. The dog on the other hand, isn’t very eager to challenge the forces of nature. Both of them break through the ice, wetting themselves. But the dog is built to endure the cold whereas the man has to build a fire. Perhaps, the fate of the two is best foreshadowed in the first few pages of the story :

The frozen moisture of its breathing had settled on its (the dog’s) fur in a fine powder of frost, and especially where its jowls, muzzle and eyelashes whitened by its crystal breath. The man’s red beard and mustache were  likewise frosted, but solidly, the deposit taking the form of ice and increasing with every warm, moist breath he exhaled… If he fell down it would shattered itself, like glass, into brittle fragments .

True enough, the dog knows its limits and knows how to bend  when faced with overwhelming force of nature. The man doesn’t bend which is why he breaks, quite like the crystal-beard. By the end of the story,we see that after a long struggle the man falls to the ground and is frozen to death.

The masterful used of the visual and tactile imagery depicting the cold, icy setting is often tinted with hints of gloom and danger :

The day  had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and  grey when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland.

The aural imagery used to describe the sound made by the man’s spitting carries with it the sound of violence and danger :

As he turned to go, he spat speculative. There was a sharp explosive crackle that startled him.

The use of situational irony is seen throughout the story. The man takes the roundabout way to take a look at the possibilities of getting out logs in the springs from the islands in the Yukon and this decision of navigating through an unchartered territory costs him his life. Time and again, he entertains the thought of getting to the warm camp and being taken care of by “the boys” only to die a cold death.

The wolf-dog is set as a foil to the man as it is instinctive in nature . It is well adapted for such cold conditions, apprehends dangers and knows how to fend for itself. It doesn’t need facts to sniff danger and stay away from one. It knows that the day isn’t right for travelling and, unlike the man, clearly knows its limits. The dog has what we are told, an inherited knowledge , relayed by lines of ancestry that had been through such cold. The man had  inherited some knowledge too , a knowledge of different kind: the advice of the old-timers . Indeed, the experience of others is a knowledge inherited by us and such knowledge has formed the basis of human civilization. However, the man chooses to ignore this precious knowledge as well. A little more humility was all that was required of him to stay alive. Naturally, the arrogance of the intellect is humbled before the promptings of  instinct.

To Build a Fire is a story where conflict is present in two realms, both external and internal. The external conflict between man and nature takes place in tandem with the internal conflict between the man’s pride and the sound wisdom of the experienced Old Timers. The man recalls their advice every time  he overcomes some disaster (external conflict) and every time he tries to prove them wrong by dismissing them (internal conflict). Both the conflicts ultimately get resolved in his death.

Jack London has brilliantly portrayed how humans are first and foremost , biological creatures . Naturalism held that there are natural laws that govern the natural universe and that breaking the natural laws can lead to disaster. The man, in pushing his body beyond the temperatures it is meant to resist, breaks the natural law of human anatomy and has to die as a consequence. In a rare, naturalist masterstroke, the speaker separates the man’s emotional/ psychological self from his biological self and shows how the former cannot overrule the requirements of the latter.  While such instances abound in the text, this demarcation of the biological from the emotional is best depicted while describing the effects of the cold on the blood running in his veins :

  The cold of space smacked the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full   force of the blow. The blood of his body recoiled before it. The blood was alive, like the dog and like the dog it wanted to hide away and cover itself up from the fearful cold

By emphasizing the living nature of blood and its revulsion to the man’s decisions, London provides a ‘selfhood’ to the blood. This isn’t done in a literary sense but in a literal, scientific sense which sees blood as a living entity . The demands on scientificity by Naturalism is handled with such care that it becomes difficult to notice the beauty of it at first sight.

The man who was  described as lacking in imagination begins imagining things as he inches towards death . While making the final dash, the man feels weightless owing to the numb, insensate legs that bear him. The image of Mercury flashes across his mind:

Somewhere he had once seen wind Mercury and he wondered if Mercury felt as he felt when skimming over the Earth

Similarly, his decision to meet death with dignity  after  the shameful state he’s been reduced to is captured by the curious simile which crosses his mind : that he’s been “ running around like a chicken with its head cut off”.

Finally, it is his imagination which comforts him till the final moments until he gets chilled to death:

He pictured the boys finding his body next day. Suddenly he found himself with them coming along the trail and looking for himself …When he got back to the States he could tell the folks what real cold was.

Perhaps this man who was obsessed with facts, figures and precise measurements is beginning to understand that there are things which cannot be known and that which cannot be known may only be imagined. Death, being the realm of the unknown, forces him to imagine and use a faculty  he has lacked all this while. As he drifts towards the realm of the unknown the only thing that accompanies him is his imagination.

The fire is symbolic of life and the determination to live. So long as the fire is burning, the man has a chance to survive. The moment the fire goes out, the man begins freezing to death. It must be pointed out that the fire stands for life in general and not just in relation to man. The dog yearns back to the fire for it knows that fire is what will help it stay alive. As mentioned earlier, Naturalism  treated nature as an indifferent, impersonal force and fire, being a part of nature, is indifferent to whom it provides the lifesaving warmth. Note, when the fire stops burning for the man, the dog walks off in search for other “ fire providers and food provider s”. There is fire somewhere out there and as long as there is a fire, there’s a possibility for life. The dog knows this very well.

It is worth noting that London wrote two versions of To Build  A Fire . The first version was published on 1902 and the much anthologized second version was published on 1905. The two, despite having identical plotlines are nevertheless drastically different in their treatment of the characters. The first version is a much Romantic rendition, with the man ending up alive by the end of the story. Also, the man in the first version is saved by the blanket he has carried whereas the man in the second version is quite proud of “ travelling light “. The second version is a more realistic portrayal of the consequences of standing up to the forces of nature. The man in the first version has a name: Tom Vincent. Tom needs to meet his friends (who’ve been on a moose hunting expedition) in order deliver them some “cheery letters” from the States. Naturally, this personal element is missing in the naturalist version because, in line with the naturalist style of writing, it treats the man as a specimen, not as an individual. Also, the dog is missing in the first version. Because the 1902 version of the story doesn’t require an instinctive foil to the man’s mechanistic nature, the inclusion of a dog becomes redundant.  One look at the two versions not only demonstrates the growing maturity in London’s technique but also his gradual shift towards Naturalism insofar as the short story is concerned.

To Build a Fire : About the author

One of the most translated writers of the 20th century, Jack London is said to be among the pioneers of commercial fiction writing. His tales of adventure which capture the splendour and might of nature have held the readers rapt for decades. There is rarely a reader of works like the White Fang, The Call of the Wild and the Sea Wolf who might contest the artistic heights his work is capable of reaching. Interestingly, the life of this storyteller is as adventurous as his fiction. Born John Griffith Chancey, Jack London was deserted by his father at an early age and had to take up the surname of his stepfather. Weighed down by poverty, he quit school (aged 14) and decided to explore the San Francisco Bay area. He sailed to Japan for some months, landed up in  jail once and became a militant socialist in 1894. London gained admission to University of California, Berkeley but had to quit  owing to financial difficulties and the now 21 year old young man headed off to Klondike Gold Rush to make a fortune. There, he firsthand experienced the cold, unforgiving climate and witnessed the sufferings of brave young men who had come in hope of a better life. His health deteriorated,  he suffered from scurvy and he eventually had to return home. London then decided to escape poverty by writing and was lucky to make that decision just when development in printing technology had led to lowered costs in the production of printed materials. Magazines aimed at  wide readership begin thriving and by the 1900s London ended up securing financial stability for himself. In 1903 he published The Call of the Wild which established him as a formidable writer. He covered the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 for San Francisco Examiner and was arrested multiple times by the Japanese while on his mission. His release after the final arrest was made possible only through the personal intervention of Theodore Roosevelt, the then president of US.

in 1905 he purchased a huge ranch in California which cost him a fortune. He also built a lavish mansion called Wolf Hall in its premises. However, the mansion was burnt down in an accident  barely two weeks before the London family could move in.

Jack London published a staggering output of novels, essays, short stories and poems throughout his lifetime and for which he will long be remembered.

He died on 22nd November  1916 in his ranch, possibly due to accidental morphine overdose.

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Columbia faculty, students continue protests; police order dispersal of gathering at UCLA: Updates

Editor's Note: This page is a summary of news on campus protests for Wednesday, May 1. For the latest news, view our live updates file for Thursday, May 2.

NEW YORK − Hundreds of faculty and graduate student workers rallied on a sunny Wednesday afternoon outside Columbia University’s only open entrance, protesting the university’s decision hours earlier to send police on campus and arrest more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Protesters held signs, including “no cops on campus,” as police entered and exited the campus gates just feet away. Others held signs calling for university President Minouche Shafik to resign. Faculty members said access was heavily restricted, as campus was closed for a second day in the period before finals, open only to students living on campus and essential workers.

The NYPD announced almost 300 arrests had taken place Tuesday at Columbia and City College − hours before Los Angeles police in riot gear swept onto UCLA's campus to break up a violent melee between dueling protesters as opposition to Israel's war in Gaza continued to roll through universities across the nation.

Dozens of the New York arrests involved demonstrators removed from an administration building at Columbia, where officers also took down encampments that had been the epicenter of the protests nationwide.

"Students and outside activists breaking Hamilton Hall doors, mistreating our Public Safety officers and maintenance staff, and damaging property are acts of destruction, not political speech," Shafik said in a statement Wednesday. She added that many students felt unwelcome on campus because of the disruption and antisemitic comments made by some protesters.

At City College, affiliated with City University of New York, officials requested NYPD assistance after the college said students and "un-affiliated external individuals" refused to leave. The school issued a statement saying students have a right to demonstrate peacefully but that police were called in because of "specific and repeated acts of violence and vandalism, not in response to peaceful protest."

About 1,200 people in southern Israel were killed and more than 200 taken hostage in the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The Israeli retaliatory assault has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and obliterated much of the enclave's infrastructure. The humanitarian crisis has fueled outrage on some U.S. campuses and spurred demands for an end to investment in Israeli companies and amnesty for student protesters.


∎ New Hampshire State Police said personnel were at the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth College on Wednesday night "in response to illegal activity and at the request of local law enforcement." At the University of New Hampshire, police arrested 10 to 20 pro-Palestinian protesters who started setting up an encampment after a rally. Officers at Dartmouth College cleared out the final tents at the campus encampment shortly before 11:40 p.m., its student newspaper reported .

∎ Several hundred protesters gathered Wednesday for a peaceful demonstration on Ohio State University. School officials had locked up some buildings in anticipation of the demonstration. Unlike last week's protest, which led to almost 40 arrests, the crowd began dispersing around 9 p.m. and the demonstration ended before 10 p.m.

∎ Columbia Provost Angela Olinto said all academic activities at the school's main campus for the rest of the semester, including final exams, will be held remotely, with some minor exceptions.

∎ Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he supports the strong law enforcement response unleashed on protesters at the University of Georgia and Emory University in Atlanta. “Send a message,'' he said. "We are not going to allow Georgia to become the next Columbia University.”

∎ Protesters and police clashed at the University of Wisconsin in Madison when officers broke up an encampment there Wednesday. Video from the scene showed some protesters being pinned to the ground.

∎ Tulane University said at least 14 protesters were arrested from the "illegal encampment" the school said was dominated by protesters "unaffiliated with our community."

Police order dispersal of large pro-Palestinian gathering at UCLA

Police ordered a large group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators to leave or face arrest late Wednesday, a night after violence erupted at the encampment by counter-protestors.

Video posted on social media showed counterdemonstrators battering a makeshift barricade around pro-Palestinian protesters at the Los Angeles campus. The Los Angeles Police Department said it responded to UCLA's request to restore order "due to multiple acts of violence within the large encampment" on the campus.

The Los Angeles Times reported police did not intervene for more than an hour after arriving as counterdemonstrators wearing black outfits and white masks − some armed with metal pipes and sticks − repeatedly tried to breach the perimeter of the encampment while campers pushed back and several fights broke out.

Los Angeles police said in a statement Wednesday that officers made no arrests and did not use force in its response to the UCLA campus Tuesday night. The department also noted that no officers were injured.

UCLA canceled Wednesday classes and Chancellor Gene Block, who blamed the violence on a "group of instigators'' who attacked the encampment, said the student conduct process has been initiated and could lead to disciplinary action including suspension or expulsion.

The Times also reported University of California President Michael Drake told the Board of Regents that 15 people were injured in the overnight fracas, and he's ordering an independent review of the events, including how UCLA handled them.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned the violence, saying in a statement , "The right to free speech does not extend to inciting violence, vandalism, or lawlessness on campus. Those who engage in illegal behavior must be held accountable for their actions − including through criminal prosecution, suspension, or expulsion.''

The Jewish Federation Los Angeles issued a statement saying it was "appalled" at the violence, which did not "represent the Jewish community or our values." But the statement also said the UCLA administration was at fault for allowing an environment that made students feel unsafe.

UCLA students barricade themselves in courtyard in tense protest

Hundreds of students at UCLA barricaded themselves in a courtyard between two campus buildings Wednesday, using sheets of plywood, planks, ropes, and tents to block the doors leading from the buildings into the outside area.

The mood was anxious. Sporadic announcements over a loudspeaker informed students they were part of an illegal settlement and would face consequences if they remained. In response, the crowd chanted: “We’re not leaving, we’re not leaving.”

“I’m terrified, obviously, I think everybody is,” said 21-year-old student Aidan Doyle. “But we’re going to stay as long as we possibly can, until we’re being physically removed.”

Thousands of students were spread out in the areas directly outside the main protest. Organizers shouted over loud speakers that they didn’t need any more supplies as piles of protective equipment, pizza and Gatorade grew at the main entrance to the camp.

On Tuesday night, the camp was attacked by a group of violent counter-protesters, who fired chemical agents and fireworks into the protestors and assaulted dozens of people.

– Will Carless

Columbia faculty members protest decision to bring in police

Some of faculty and graduate student workers rallying outside Columbia's gates wore orange safety vests that said “faculty,” which they donned days earlier to help protect students in the encampment. 

“There is not a single university left in Gaza, and I bet a lot of you feel there is not a university here in Morningside Heights,” Joseph Hawley, an associate professor of classics, told gatherers, referring to the neighborhood around the school. “But I’m here to tell you the university is here on this sidewalk.”

Barricades still lined city streets outside Columbia’s campus as police officers stood watch. Shafik has asked the New York Police Department to remain on campus until May 17, two days after graduation.

Mana Kia, an associate professor, read a draft statement from the Columbia chapter of the American Association of University Professors saying members "unequivocally condemn President Shafik, the Columbia board of trustees and other senior administrators involved in the decision to call in the NYPD and clear the encampment of student protesters." The statement said the association has "no confidence in the administration."

Organizer says 'ordinary people,' not agitators behind protests

Less than three hours before a huge deployment of New York City police officers broke up an encampment and retook a building at Columbia on Tuesday night, Mayor Eric Adams made a forceful case that the pro-Palestinian protest at the school had been hijacked by "outside agitators'' bent on sowing chaos.

Those involved in pushing for the movement off-campus disagree, saying it belongs to regular folks trying to raise awareness to the Palestinians' plight.

Manolo De Los Santos, an organizer with The People’s Forum, said those joining the protests alongside students are just “ordinary New Yorkers.”“The power of this moment is that it’s everyone coming together,” he said. “It’s health care workers, it’s teachers, it’s city workers. It’s ordinary people who feel so strongly.”   

‘Never felt this much tension on campus,' UNH student says

Police arrested pro-Palestinian protesters who started setting up an encampment in front of the University of New Hampshire's Thompson Hall Wednesday night.

UNH Police Chief Paul Dean estimated between 10 to 20 protesters were arrested after a rally led to demonstrators attempting to set up an encampment at the state’s flagship university, drawing local and New Hampshire State Police. Some demonstrators shouted at officers, calling them "cowards" and chanting "free Palestine."

The peaceful rally lasted until around 6:30 p.m. Then, Dean said protesters rushed in to form an encampment and attempted to barricade their tents. Leftover tents and items on Thompson Hall's lawn were removed by police around 9 p.m., loaded onto a truck as dozens of students watched. 

Shane Tilton, a sophomore who lives in a nearby residence hall, said he walked over to observe after hearing the commotion. He watched from beneath the Thompson Hall arches as the encampment was removed from the most well-known gathering spot on campus.

“I’ve never felt this much tension on campus,” Tilton said. “I feel like there’s a lot of tension. From my perspective, it seems like the cops don’t have much to do here. They seemed like they were here to jump at this opportunity and see some action.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire condemned police’s actions Wednesday night in Durham and at a similar protest at Dartmouth College in Hanover.

“Freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate are foundational principles of democracy and core constitutional rights," said Devon Chaffee, executive director of the state ACLU. "We urge university and government leaders to create environments that safeguard constitutionally protected speech."

– Ian Lenahan and Deb Cram, Portsmouth Herald

'Intifada' chants by some protesters are 'horribly upsetting'

Dozens of protesters gathered Wednesday in and around Fordham University’s Leon Lowenstein Center in Manhattan and established an encampment. The group is demanding the university divest from all companies “complicit in the Israeli occupation and ongoing siege,” according to a statement from the Fordham for Palestine Coalition.

As the demonstration grew throughout the afternoon, it also attracted a handful of onlookers and opponents who occasionally shouted pro-Israel remarks as they passed. Asa Kittay and Carly Connors said they were in class down the street when they heard demonstrators chanting “Intifada,” an Arabic word for uprising or rebellion. Kittay, who held up a tablet with an image of the Israeli flag, said it was “horribly upsetting.”“I believe that these two states can co-exist peacefully,” Connors said. “I do not believe in an intifada. That is not very anti-genocide.” John Lefkowitz, who attended the protest with friends who go to Fordham, said he believes the demonstrations are sometimes incorrectly characterized as antisemitic by people who are uninformed about the position of anti-Zionism.“It’s often told that Jews should feel unsafe in pro-Palestine circles. As a Jew, I’ve never felt unsafe in a pro-Palestinian circle,” he said. “These people are great, they’re not anti-semites.”

Back to the future: Columbia a focal point again in protest history

The descent of police on Hamilton Hall at Columbia University outfitted in full riot gear and enforcing mass arrests Tuesday night fell on the same date and place police cracked down on antiwar protesters in 1968. Some fear the clash heralds a similar outcome at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where political leaders are emboldened to sic the cops on demonstrators ever more intent on showing up.“I don’t think it’ll keep anyone from Chicago, it might even inspire more people to come,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, a spokesperson for the Coalition to March on the DNC and the national chair of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network.Democrats already feared a repeat of the chaos from 56 years ago where police and demonstrators clashed, drawing all eyes away from the convention.At the crackdown at Columbia April 30, 1968, police arrested over 700 people and over 100 injuries were reported, according to a Columbia University Libraries publication. Police arrested almost 300 people Tuesday between Columbia and City College, according to the city’s top cop.

– Michael Loria

Arraignments from first arrests at New York universities begin

Late Wednesday night, the first arrests from the protests at Columbia University and the City College of New York began to be arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, the same building where former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial is underway.

Outside the court’s arraignment part, dozens of the protesters’ supporters gathered in the halls, many of them wearing keffiyehs. The mood was jubilant, and many were chatting or conferring with each other in small groups.

When one protester exited the courtroom after his arraignment, he was quickly swarmed by friends and dropped to the floor in a brief moment of celebration.

That protester, who was at the City College demonstrations, had been charged with assaulting a police officer, a felony, and resisting arrest. However, the prosecutor handling his case recommended to the judge that he be released from jail, given that police “continue to investigate” the incident.

Arrests across U.S.: Campus protests across the US result in arrests by the hundreds. But will the charges stick?

– Asher Stockler, The Journal News

NYU encampment stays in place after others in city were torn down

The day after other city schools saw violent clashes with police, the encampment at NYU's lower Manhattan campus stood untouched. Punctuated by faded chalk reading "End Jewish and Palestinian hate," the collection of tents and chairs took up about one city block near 181 Mercer Street, where the university's Paulson Center is located. 

Fenced-off and guarded by a smattering of campus security, the encampment was bracing for hot weather with some protesters carrying umbrellas to block out the sun and one arriving with large bags of ice. Demonstrators needed to present a school ID to enter the encampment. The barricades held signs reading, "Fund our education, not the occupation" and listing the protesters' demands, which include divestment and closing NYU's Tel Aviv campus.

The shadow of Tuesday's mass arrests and the forced removal of encampments on the other end of the island at Columbia and City College of New York was evident. Just outside the barricades, a group of demonstrators huddled to practice safety tactics.

− Anna Kaufman  

New York students continue protests day after mass arrests

Hundreds of demonstrators at Columbia University and City College of New York gathered Wednesday evening a day after administrators from both universities called police in riot gear on the protesters.

“Our encampment is what it could look like to be liberated,” Hadeeqa Arzoo, a City College student, said, as several cars honked in support while she led chants of “Free Palestine.” “So I will continue to cultivate these spaces of liberation within the belly of the beast. That is resistance.”

Even if both schools no longer had encampments, demonstrators promised to continue their activism in support of Palestinians and in opposition to schools’ investments in Israel.

“There is not a single student-led uprising in history met with severe state-sanctioned violence that did not end up being right,” Maryam Alwan, a Columbia student organizer, said. She likened their cause — and police's response — to the civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter protests, including allegations of outside agitators and property damage.

As the sun fell outside City College’s campus in West Harlem, several dozen police officers surrounded the protesters standing inside barricades. The rally, which included two Islamic prayers, would continue into the night before students returned to Columbia, some walking down the valley and back up the hill to the other campus.

– Eduardo Cuevas

UT-Dallas confirms 17 arrests hours after encampment set up

The University of Texas at Dallas confirmed law enforcement officers arrested over a dozen people hours after pro-Palestinian student demonstrators constructed an encampment Wednesday.

UT-Dallas spokesperson Brittany Magelssen told USA TODAY that 17 people were arrested on criminal trespassing charges as of 5 p.m. local time Wednesday after university officials gave written notice to remove the tents. Magelssen said UT-Dallas requested outside law enforcement officers to assist. 

“Individuals may peacefully assemble in the common outdoor areas of campus to exercise their right to free speech, but they may not construct an encampment or block pathways. In the last six months, there have been several peaceful protests on the UT Dallas campus,” Magelssen said. "The UT Dallas Police Department and area law enforcement partners are continuing to monitor the situation."

The UT-Dallas chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine said in a social media post students began setting up the "Gaza Liberation Plaza" encampment at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“We reject our university’s complicity in profiting off the genocide. We will continue to escalate and put pressure on our university until UTD/UTIMCO divest from war profiteers and Palestine is free,” the student organization said early Wednesday.

High school students joining the protest movement

The proliferation of antiwar protests in college campuses across the U.S. is filtering down to the younger academic levels , and some of the grown-ups are not happy about it.

A sit-in planned for Wednesday at a Chicago prep school is the latest among high school demonstrations showing support for embattled Palestinians in Gaza. On Monday, about 100 high school students in Austin, Texas,  walked out of their classes in protest . Last week, students in western Washington state similarly expressed their objection to the U.S. backing Israel's military efforts in Gaza.

"I'm protesting against a government that is actively hurting people just because of where they were born and what language they speak," Pia Ibsen, a senior at McCallum High School in Austin, told USA TODAY. Ibsen helped organize a walkout and left class for about an hour and a half.

Some school and government officials have tried to stop the protests, arguing they create a hostile environment for Jewish students. That was the case last week when two county commissioners in New Jersey demanded a school district's superintendent cancel a pro-Palestinian walkout at East Regional High in Voorhees Township. The protest was replaced by a rally for human rights.

− Cybele Mayes-Osterman and Kayla Jimenez

UAW members hope presence at protest will 'move the needle'

In addition to the campus protests, hundreds of people bearing pro-Palestinian signs and t-shirts gathered at New York City’s Foley Square on Wednesday afternoon for a march and rally led by labor organizers on International Worker’s Day.

Participants included Brian Sullivan, 45, a member of the United Auto Workers whose local chapter represents social workers. Sullivan said seeing labor organizers come out in such large numbers could help “really move the needle.”

“UAW endorsed Joe Biden and hopefully he feels some exposure here, that if he doesn’t do what’s right and what the UAW members are asking for, he risks that endorsement,” Sullivan said.

Jeremy Montano, another UAW member who works in the legal field, said the recent “explosion of interest” in the conflict in Gaza, particularly on college campuses, has also given him some hope. “Obviously it’s balanced out with a lot of despair about what’s actually happening in Gaza,” said Montano, 37. “But there’s been a little bit of a source of hope that maybe longer term things might change.”

Almost 300 protesters arrested in NYC; student group says some were injured

New York City police made 119 arrests at Columbia University and 173 at City College in Tuesday night's crackdowns on protesters, Commissioner Edward Caban said Wednesday. Charges range from trespassing to criminal mischief to burglary, and the breakdown of students to non-students facing charges was not yet available, he said.

Police said there were no injuries, although CUNY for Palestine issued a statement saying one student suffered a broken ankle, two had teeth broken and others received burns from pepper spray used by police during the clash.

Mayor Eric Adams said drones and encryption radios used at Columbia provided police with the element of surprise when they retook Hamilton Hall, adding that "professionals at radicalizing" had influenced the student protesters and co-opted the protest but without providing details.

Officers climbed into Hamilton Hall, which protesters had occupied earlier Tuesday, through a second-story window. Within three hours Tuesday night, they had retaken the building, NYPD said.

"It was about external actors hijacking a peaceful protest and influencing students to escalate," Adams said. "We cannot allow what should be a lawful protest turn into a violent spectacle that serves no purpose."

Fordham, another NYC university, establishes encampment

Outside Fordham University’s Leon Lowenstein Center building on Wednesday, another encampment sprung up. Students, faculty and community members surrounded by law enforcement officers and newly erected barricades chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.” Inside, demonstrators including current and former students milled around their tents, played drums, banged on windows and held up signs reading “Free Palestine” and “Divest genocide funds” for passersby to see.

Julie Norris, a 27-year-old Fordham alumni, said she arrived before 8 a.m. Wednesday to help establish the encampment. Norris, who spoke to USA TODAY on the phone from inside the Lowenstein Center, estimated about 30 people were inside with her and said they plan to stay until their demands are met.

“The students can’t be stopped,” she said. “We saw intense repression against students on other campuses yesterday, and this morning students are ready to stand back up. There’s going to be no business as usual until Palestine is free.”

Northwestern, Brown reach deal: Make pact with student demonstrators to curb protests

Some campus protesters cut deals, claim victory

Some student activists who pitched tents and camped on university lawns to protest Israel's military attacks in Gaza have begun to declare victory after hammering out agreements with school administrators.  Northwestern University  just outside Chicago became the first U.S. school to publicly announce a deal on Monday. On Tuesday, Brown University protesters broke camp after President Christina Paxson said the Rhode Island school will bring divestment demands to a vote. Organizers hope the deals set a new precedent for protest encampments around the U.S. and show a way to find common ground without using force.

“What these students have done is truly, truly historical,” Summer Pappachen, a graduate student and organizer of the Northwestern encampment, told USA TODAY on Tuesday amid cleanup of the lawn students held for days. “We have been able to achieve (our goals) while keeping students safe.”

− Michael Loria

Columbia building cleared: Police storm into building held by pro-Palestinian protesters

What are college protests across the US about?

The  student protesters  opposed to Israel's military attacks in Gaza say  they want their schools to stop funneling endowment money  to Israeli companies and other businesses, like weapons manufacturers, that profit from the war in Gaza. In addition to divestment, protesters are calling for a cease-fire, and student governments at some colleges have also passed resolutions in recent weeks calling for an end to academic partnerships with Israel. The protesters also want the U.S. to stop supplying funding and weapons to the war effort.

More recently, amnesty for students and professors involved in the protests has become an issue. Protesters want protections amid threats of disciplinary action and termination for those participating in demonstrations that violate campus policy or local laws.

− Claire Thornton

Contributing: Reuters

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Stormy Daniels Takes the Stand

The porn star testified for eight hours at donald trump’s hush-money trial. this is how it went..

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to build a fire conflict essay

Jonah E. Bromwich , who covers criminal justice in New York for The New York Times.

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Hamas says it will not compromise further with Israel to win Gaza ceasefire

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  • Hamas says it will not compromise further to win ceasefire
  • Ceasefire talks in Cairo continue into the night -Egypt TV

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Additional reporting by Henriette Chacar and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Andrea Shalal aboard Air Force One and Susan Heavey and Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Philippa Fletcher, Josie Kao and Daniel Wallis

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Nature and Man in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London Essay

Introduction, nature and man, works cited.

Environmentalists have long theorized and contemplated many different methods to determine the effects of humanity’s innovative nature on the natural environment. However, there is a different view of nature and the story by Jack London named “ To Build A Fire ” is a theme that manifests the opposite notion. Here we find man and nature in a situation where nature becomes a deadly antagonist.

The theme of the story is the conflict between man and nature. This conflict includes the study of how humanity and the environment interact and what that can do to both the human condition as well as the condition of the environment in which humanity would fail to survive. (Robertson, 28) However, the struggle is reflected all over the story. It starts with the line, “ Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray ” (London, 301). The repetition of the adjectives that dines the day indicates the seriousness and severely difficult situation and the challenges the parson is about face. This description is then emphasized by indicating, “ There was no sun nor hint of sun …and that was due to the absence of sun .” (London, 301) Later, we find that the man is attempting to take help from nature in form of spruce trees and fire in order to counter nature. We find in the description that “ tangled in the underbrush about the trunks … dry, last-year’s grasses ”. (London, 306) This was another encounter between Man and nature. Here there was a possibility that the tree would provide him with firewood needed for the fire to keep him warm and dry in the midst of freezing cold. However, the possibility was diminished as there was thick layer of snow over the branches and that kept the fire from burning. It was evident that under such conditions the man would not survive in that below freezing temperature.

Though there is a character of a wolf dog, it can be stated that the dog is the link between man and nature or the manifestation of the achievement of the humankind. This is because; in the first place the humankind domesticated and tamed a wild and natural creature. However, at the end we find that the dog runs towards human settlement once the man dies to survive indicates that under such extreme condition a human being is alone in the mercy of the nature and all his accomplishments are of no help to him. “ A little longer it delayed, howling under the stars …where were the other food-providers and fire-providers .” (London, 312) This is a situation where man and nature are rivals of each other on neutral ground and without any help. The link of the dog also indicates the vitality of the theme. It is mentioned, “ The dog sat facing him …snow and make no fire .” (London, 312) The writer indicates that whatever the humankind has achieved is due to cunning strategy of bribery. The dog has been modulated from wolf in lure of easy food and shelter and the moment it is available the dog returns or withdraws help. (Cameron, 224) This is the most punishing sub-theme of the entire theme of struggle between man and nature.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the theme of the struggle between man and nature is a wonderful aesthetic approach. Nevertheless, to truly create something that gives off a strong aesthetic presence, one usually must feel some sort of emotional attachment to whatever it is writers are working on. Only then will one truly pour out everything from your heart and mind. (Lamb, 167) When one can accomplish this, one can create something with true aesthetic value with meaningful theme.

Cameron, Elaine. Making Sense of Nature . NY: Kogan Page Publishers, 2004.

Lamb, Davis. Cult to Culture: The Development of Civilization . Wellington: National Book Trust, 2004.

London, Jack. “To Build A Fire”. Richard Fay (ed) Stories and storytellers . Fourth Ed. Wellington: BLT, 2006. P. 301-312

Robertson, Ian. Society: A Brief Introduction . New York: Worth Publishers, Inc, 1989.

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IvyPanda. (2022, March 9). Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jack-londons-to-build-a-fire-essay/

"Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London." IvyPanda , 9 Mar. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/jack-londons-to-build-a-fire-essay/.

IvyPanda . (2022) 'Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London'. 9 March.

IvyPanda . 2022. "Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London." March 9, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jack-londons-to-build-a-fire-essay/.

1. IvyPanda . "Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London." March 9, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jack-londons-to-build-a-fire-essay/.


IvyPanda . "Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London." March 9, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jack-londons-to-build-a-fire-essay/.

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Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 807

As the war enters its 807th day, these are the main developments.

TOPSHOT - Azov Brigade fighters pay their respect at the grave of Nazary Gryntsevych, a Ukrainian soldier of the Azov Brigade callsigned "Grinka" who was killed on the battlefield, during a funeral ceremony at a football stadium in Vinnytsia, on May 10, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "Grinka" was one of the youngest soldiers to hold the Azovstal still plant in the southern city of Mariupol during a three-month-long siege that gave its defenders a cult status. Russian troops ended up seizing Mariupol in May 2022 and capturing Gryntsevych, before allowing him to return as part of a prisoner deal. Later Gryntsevych was back on the battlefield. (Photo by Roman PILIPEY / AFP)

Here is the situation on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

Ukrainian strikes have killed three people and caused a large fire at an oil storage depot in Luhansk, the region’s Russia-installed governor, Leonid Pasechnik, has said in a Telegram message. Eight people were hospitalised.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he will quash a new major Russian ground assault in the northeastern Kharkiv region, as he acknowledged the latest “heavy battles along the entire front line”, and appealed to Western allies to deliver more military aid.

  • Ukrainian reinforcements have headed to Kharkiv, launched artillery and drone counterstrikes in response to the latest Russian offensive, while the authorities told civilians to flee the heavy fighting.
  • General Oleksandr Pavliuk, commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, has played down the significance of possibly losing the eastern town of Chasiv Yar, which is described as a gateway to other cities that Russia is targeting, like Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
  • Hundreds of people in Ukraine’s city of Vinnytsia have bid their final farewell to Nazary Gryntsevych, a member of the Azov Brigade who had become a national hero and symbol of bravery after fighting Russian forces despite the fall of Mariupol.

Diplomacy and politics

  • White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby has said the United States expects Russia to intensify its new offensive and commit additional troops, with the aim of establishing a buffer zone along the Ukrainian border.
  • “It is possible that Russia will make further advances in the coming weeks, but we do not anticipate any major breakthroughs,” Kirby said. “And over time, the influx of US assistance will enable Ukraine to withstand these attacks over the course of 2024.”
  • The US has announced a new $400m military aid package – including armoured vehicles, surface-to-air missiles and rockets – for Ukraine amid the Russian assault in the northeast of the country. It is the third package for Ukraine in less than three weeks, following two in late April valued at a total of $7bn.
  • Poland’s central bank governor,  Adam Glapinski, has warned that his country faces further economic risks if the war in Ukraine comes closer to its borders.
  • Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair has announced a $76m Canadian dollar ($56m) financial package that would allow Germany to ramp up its air defence aid for Ukraine.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared that the aim of nuclear exercises planned by Russia is to work out the response to any attacks on Russian soil. Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, warns the West that Russia could attack not only Ukraine in response to such attacks.


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  1. To Build A Fire Summary & Analysis

    The dog is surprised that the man sits in the snow and does not make a fire. The dog cries out, longing for a fire. It expects the man to curse, but there is only silence. Later, the dog moves near to the man, but it smells death. It waits longer, howling, while the stars shine in the sky.

  2. "To Build a Fire" by Jack London: Literary Analysis Essay

    In the story "To Build A Fire," Jack London presents a bitter conflict between man and nature in the harsh Yukon Trail environment. The author's choice to use nature as the antagonist portrays an understanding of a force working against the main character, the man, as he struggles to endure in the cold. By giving nature several aspects of ...

  3. To Build a Fire Conflict

    Download. Jack London's story, "To Build A Fire" is about a struggle of survival between man and nature, which happens through overconfidence and arrogance as opposed to experience and intelligence. These struggles arise through the man's arrogance and overconfidence by ignoring the signs of nature. The man tries hard to meet his boys at ...

  4. To Build a Fire by Jack London: [Essay Example], 517 words

    Jack London was a prolific author known for his adventure stories set in the wilderness. One of his most famous works is the short story "To Build a Fire," first published in 1908. The story follows an unnamed protagonist as he attempts to survive in the harsh Yukon wilderness, where he faces the unforgiving cold and other natural obstacles.

  5. "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

    Introduction. Jack London's "To Build a Fire" has been greatly considered to be the foremost example of the naturalist movement and the conflict between man and nature. The protagonist of the story is the man who "was a newcomer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter" and he is the prime tool at the hands of the ...

  6. To Build a Fire: Analysis of Main Ideas

    Survival depends on companionship. Through the man's preventable death, "To Build a Fire" demonstrates that people need others to survive. The man rejects potential companionship in a number of ways, thus leading to his death. First of all, he is traveling on his own, accompanied by only a dog with whom he has no real bond.

  7. Man-Animal Conflict: "To Build a Fire" by Jack London Essay

    Man-Animal Conflict: "To Build a Fire" by Jack London Essay. Exclusively available on IvyPanda. Jack London's "To Build a Fire" is one of the most well-known pieces of the author. In this short story, London manages to narrate the events in such a dramatic way that the reader cannot but feel sympathy and empathy towards the main hero.

  8. To Build a Fire Study Guide

    Four film adaptations of the short story have been released, including an animated version (2016), a perhaps surprising choice for a grim story that ends in death. The best study guide to To Build a Fire on the planet, from the creators of SparkNotes. Get the summaries, analysis, and quotes you need.

  9. To Build a Fire, Jack London

    SOURCE: "The Theme of Jack London's 'To Build a Fire,'" in American Book Collector, Vol. 17, No. 3, November, 1966, pp. 15-18. [In the following essay, Peterson discusses the motif of ...

  10. To Build a Fire Essays and Criticism

    In ''To Build a Fire'' London has employed a controlled artistry to present the theme that was struggling to life in ''In a Far Country.''. Now that London's everyman has become ...

  11. Analysis, Synopsis, and Themes of "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

    The man battles the frost, but as "a creature of temperature…able to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold" (3), he is ill-equipped to face it alone. After failing to relight his fire, "He was losing in his battle with the frost.It was creeping into his body from all sides." (38) The man is traveling alone in the brutal cold, despite being warned against this by an ...

  12. To Build a Fire Part I Summary and Analysis

    To Build a Fire study guide contains a biography of Jack London, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. ... While the main conflict is man versus nature, it would be inaccurate to say that nature actively assaults the man. Nature does not go out of its way to hurt the man ...

  13. To Build a Fire

    To Build a Fire is a story where conflict is present in two realms, both external and internal. The external conflict between man and nature takes place in tandem with the internal conflict between the man's pride and the sound wisdom of the experienced Old Timers. The man recalls their advice every time he overcomes some disaster (external ...

  14. What is the conflict in "To Build a Fire"?

    Quick answer: The main conflict of "To Build a Fire" is between mankind and nature. In this conflict, nature overpowers the man, partly due to his poor judgment and arrogance. PDF Share.

  15. To Build a Fire: Setting

    Setting. The setting plays a large part in the story and is the primary antagonist as the man struggles to survive in the hostile environment of the Yukon. The very beginning of the story describes how the day is light and clear, but there is no sun in the sky this far north. Instead, there is an "indescribable darkness over the face of ...

  16. To Build A Fire By Jack London English Literature Essay

    In Jack London's "To Build a Fire," he reveals how a man goes through a harsh winter in the forest facing multiple obstacles along the way. He has to depend on what he thinks he should do when problems arise instead of thinking intuitively and beyond the obvious. Before the unnamed man left on his expedition he was warned by an old timer ...

  17. To Build a Fire: Full Story Summary

    The dog stays for a while, confused that he is sitting in the snow without making a fire. Eventually it realizes the man is dead and heads up the trail alone, in search of other humans who can provide food and warmth. PLUS. A short summary of Jack London's To Build a Fire. This free synopsis covers all the crucial plot points of To Build a Fire.

  18. To Build A Fire (Jack London): Discussion Questions & ...

    State Disclosures. Jack London's most well-known short story depicts a man's struggle to survive in the Yukon winter. Access the lesson plan and discussion questions here.

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  20. 88 To Build a Fire Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    The Three Principle Themes in Jack London's "To Build a Fire". Nature in Jack London's "To Build a Fire". The Relationship Between Humankind and Nature Portrayed in London's "To Build a Fire". The Harsh Reality of Life in "To Build a Fire," "Genesis of the Tenements," and "Men in the Storm".

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  23. Where is the internal conflict stated in "To Build a Fire"?

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  27. To Build a Fire: Quotes by Theme

    The dog wants the man to build a fire or dig into the snow itself to find shelter, but the man thinks his superiority as a human, and as a man, will be enough to protect him. A certain fear of death came upon him. He realized that it was no longer a mere problem of freezing his fingers and toes, or of losing his hands and feet.

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  29. Nature and Man in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London Essay

    Nature and Man. The theme of the story is the conflict between man and nature. This conflict includes the study of how humanity and the environment interact and what that can do to both the human condition as well as the condition of the environment in which humanity would fail to survive. (Robertson, 28) However, the struggle is reflected all ...

  30. Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 807

    Here is the situation on Saturday, May 11, 2024. Fighting. Ukrainian strikes have killed three people and caused a large fire at an oil storage depot in Luhansk, the region's Russia-installed ...