When I was grade school kid every English teacher made you read Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” But unlike most of the stuff given to us that story spoke to me. And after a lifetime of doing stupid things it’s all the more resonant.
Following at the man’s heels was a big native dog. It was a wolf dog, gray-coated and not noticeably different from its brother, the wild wolf. The animal was worried by the great cold. It knew that this was no time for traveling. Its own feeling was closer to the truth than the man’s judgment. In reality, it was not merely colder than 50 below zero; it was colder than 60 below, than 70 below. It was 75 below zero. Because the freezing point is 32 above zero, it meant that there were 107 degrees of frost.The dog did not know anything about temperatures. Possibly in its brain there was no understanding of a condition of very cold, such as was in the man’s brain. But the animal sensed the danger. Its fear made it question eagerly every movement of the man as if expecting him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned about fire, and it wanted fire. Otherwise, it would dig itself into the snow and find shelter from the cold air.
” To Build a Fire” was an amazing story. The snowflakes today would not be allowed to read such a harsh, upsetting story. The story contained a lesson about listening to those who had more experience. The experienced Alaska people told the man you never travel alone at 75 below zero. That lesson was written in the frozen blood of those who traveled alone at 75 below and died. The man did not listen, traveled alone, and died of hypothermia. The snowflakes of today would be appalled that you could actually die if you screwed up. To this day, I… Read more »
I like the fact that it was a short story. Painting a picture that vivid with the least amount of material needed is an accomplishment that I admire. And yeah, today’s kids need to know bad things can happen to the careless.