October 11th, 2014
Chechaquo’s and his Misconceptions
In the story “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, the narrator approach used is done in third person (omniscient and a non-participating narrator) as he describes the events that are happening from an outsiders point of view. He helps the reader understand the mistakes being made by not listening to all the suggestions made, from the old timer at Sulpher Creek as well as the instincts of the dog traveling along his side. “He was quick and alert in the things of life, but not only in the things, and not in the significances.” (p.128). The narrator goes through the story telling all the troubles the man has on his adventure while trying to reach his friends at camp. While telling the story he helps the reader observe the differences between what the man is doing and what he was told not to do, and how dangerous they are. The ignorance and stubbornness of the man could ultimately be his demise in such a dangerous situation.
The reader is informed as to what he should be doing and the atmosphere that the character in the story is in, even though the character is not following the instructions of the old timer and the instincts of the dog, which inevitably could save him. “But all this – the mysterious, far reaching hairline trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all – made no impression on the man. “ (p.128). Being selective with the details given and allowing the reader to see the hubris of the man, it gives the reader hope that the man and his dog will survive.
The author uses the third party narrator to perfection, although the reader is not sure who is telling the story he is able to foresee all the troubles that lie ahead for the man by the description of the dogs behaviors, “The dog dropped in again at his heels, with a tail drooping discouragement, as the man swung along the creek bed.” (p. 129). Taking a position as the narrator does throughout the story it makes the reader think about the way he/she looks at things if they were in that situation. “He was safe. He remembered the advice of the old timer on Sulpher Creek, and smiled. The old timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.” (p.132). This is a perfect example to the arrogance being portrayed by the man and even though he was told not to travel at such cold temperatures he was still alive and was doing it on his terms. With these decisions the reader becomes angry with the poor thought process and the smugness. The reader is still rooting for his and the dog’s survival with every poor decision that is made.