Monday, November 29, 2010

Jack London's To Build A Fire

Jack London, an author whose classics include Call of the Wild and White Fang, can make you feel the cold down to your toes. Read more about him at:
To Build a Fire, a short story I read today, taught me several lessons as well as caused me to turn up the heat.
The man is traveling through the snow with his husky, and knowing its bitterly cold, takes his precautions. Plenty of matches, some food, dressed warm. Yet, even though an old timer has warned him, he travels without another human in sub 50 below temps. At first it goes well, and he inwardly brags he is the Real man, wimps need companions.
Eventually, he breaks through to a random spring water outlet, becomes wet to the knees, and must build a fire to thaw out. He builds it under a pine tree, laden with snow. Yes, the snow decides to fall and put out the fire just when its finally roaring. Note to self, don't build fires in winter where snow can fall on top of it.
Pitifully, we "watch" as the drama unfolds to tragedy and all his matches are used up. He sees the dog in fine shape, and decides to kill him for his temporary warmth. Happily, he can not accomplish this task because he is too frozen to grasp a knife or strangle him.
In the end, he dies, the dog lives.
Check out Jack London's works if you get a chance. Good winter reading.

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