To Build a Fire by Jack London: Theme and Analysis

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Jack London which was born January 12, 1876 with the name John Griffith London. He was a novelist, journalist, and social activist. Jack was a pioneer in the world of commercial magazine fiction. He was one of the first writers to become a worldwide celebrity. Jack made a lot of fortune from writing. He had a love for writing since a kid, every day Jack would write 1000 words just because. Jack would just sit in his room all day and write great stories.

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Jack London was great at writing short stories. Many of his stories were well known in the world. Three well known short stories are The Heathen, The Law of Life, and To Build a Fire. These are just a few famous short stories that Jack had written. Even though he had a hard life growing up he still managed to write every day. Jack London is one of the best writers to live on this planet. In this paper I will be talking about Jack London short stories and

To Build a Fire is one of Jack London best stories he wrote two versions of this story one published in 1902 in the other in 1908. I’m going to talk about the 1908 story. This story is about a man that was in the cold and how he tried to survive while looking for somewhere. On his way there he meets a dog hat knows how dangerous it is to go where he going many times the do tries to get him to turn around even build a fire. He doesn’t listen to the dog and ends up dying. This story main idea is that he was prepared for what he was trying to do which cause him to die. This could go for a life lesson for anyone if you don’t prepare yourself you are going to fail.

The law of Life takes place in Alaska the same as To Build a Fire. But this story is about a tribe and the main character is Koskoosh the leader of the tribe. He is soon to die and the whole tribe is prepared to leave him to die. They set a fire next to his body and the tribe left after saying goodbye to him. While he is next to the fire he start to think back when he was young and all the fun things he did. He remembers a moose event and how he tried to fight of wolves but sadly lost. As Koskoosh lays down dying slowly he see wolves come to him and wonder if he should fight but then again remember the moose and choose not to fight back. This story is mainly about death and how it slowly creeps up on you and when it does you shouldn’t fight because you are going to lose.

The Heathen was a story about two people Otoo and Charlie. Otoo is the main character this story is about a black men and white men. The story start with them being on a ship and it wrecks. They will have to learn to like each other and work together if they want to live. This story mainly is about team work and how it’s not wrong to need help. This story opened many people minds. During the time of this story blacks and whites didn’t get along so this was a story that blew people away.

To build a fire is about a man in Alaska that is trying to make it through a storm but ends up dying. In this short story he uses a lot of imagery. When Jack wrote this story he wanted to put a big image in your head with a very cold Icey place and a cold man walking with a dog. To help him paint this picture in your head he also uses metaphors and similes. He says things like “for the absence of sensation in his feet left him unrelated to the earth” to put an image in your head to show how cold the man in the story was. He writes this story in a way where you don’t know what’s going to happen next and keep you on your toes. Jack also didn’t end the story with a happy ending either, he ends the story with the main character dying in the storm. He wrote this story as a lesson learner. The man in the story wasn’t fully prepared for what he was trying to do and for that reason it cost him his life.

Jack lived in a foster home for some of his life. Jack mom tried to kill herself while being pregnant with him. Jack father wasn’t in the picture which put him in foster home. He mainly just wrote while he in his room his foster mom was once a salve. She treated him well while he was there. “Virginia “Jenny” Prentiss was a key to Jack emotional support during his formative years” (). Although his mother Flora Wellman had her problems she took care of Jack as much as she could. Flora was from a rich Ohio family growing up she didn’t have to worry for much. She was well educated and determined to take care of her very talented son. Jack father William Chaney wasn’t in his son life into adulthood. Growing up Jack seen his stepfather as the father figure his stepfather was John London.

Jack was really very social he didn’t have many friends just mainly because of the fact he didn’t go to high school. The fact that his family was kind of weird. which made him the left out kid when he was in school. He just shows you don’t need friends to be great. He still managed to also get married twice.

Jack like to use imagery a lot in stories he wants to paint a pic in your head of what’s going on. He use this the most when he talking about a person or place. He also uses naturalism he likes to bring nature in his stories as well they play a big part in what he writes about. Jack use foreshadow as well in all his stories something that happens in the very start of the story plays a big part at the end.

Jack is one the best writers to walk this planet. He had a hard life and still made it to the top. Jack is a role model for many writers. He was one of the first big time writers. Without him story writing wouldn’t be how it is today. His stories will always be remembered.

Work cited:

YouTube,, google,

“Jack London: Biography.” Header, free, Audiobooks Youtube. “To Build a Fire by Jack London | Audiobooks Youtube Free | Short Stories Youtube.” YouTube, YouTube, 7 May 2018, Jack London.” NPR, NPR,

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To Build a Fire by Jack London: Theme and Analysis. (2020, Jul 23). Retrieved November 28, 2022 , from

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