Essay on Literary Criticism

Submitted By bmallon37
Words: 1199
Pages: 5

Brennan Mallon
Mr. Mitchell
Senior Rhetoric
29 October 2014
The Evil of Mother Nature
In 2005, one of the deadliest hurricanes entered Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, changing the life for thousands of people. People know this hurricane as Hurricane Katrina. Not only did this event change the lives of thousands, but it also caused the states billions of dollars to recover. Today, the people who have been affected are still trying to recover. The people affected thought that nothing bad would happen to them, and they thought they would be able to conquer this terrible event. John London believed that society thought they could conquer anything that Mother Nature threw at them. London wrote “To Build a Fire”, and in this he argued that humanity cannot conquer Mother Nature.
The man in “To Build a Fire” is walking around in fifty below zero weather. He was alone and he was trying to search for his group that he was traveling with. Before his adventure, he had a talk with a man about how dangerous this trip was going to be for him. At the time, he did not believe the man because he thought he would be able to conquer this storm. When he is dying he admits “You were right, old hoss; you were right” (7). Before this, he has a lot of confidence that he will be able to outsmart this storm. In the end, he realized there is no way he can conquer this. The man is not alone in his situation. All of mankind thinks that they are able to conquer a terrible storm or weather. It is common to think that mankind can conquer Mother Nature. The man in this story represents man itself, and mankind thinks that they can outsmart the weather and every challenge it throws at them.
Another example of how London’s uses symbolism is through the actual storm itself in this story. In this story, it is negative fifty degrees where the man continues to travel. He states “fifty degrees below zero meant eighty odd degrees of frost” (1). Thinking about this weather is bone chilling while reading that sentence. The man ends up dying at the end of this story because of this weather. He is unable to conquer this storm. Because mankind thinks they can conquer any storm, they are oblivion to the fact that they cannot. Mother Nature is not only a bad snowstorm, but Mother Nature can include hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. Human mature believes that they can conquer any weather, not just a snowstorm. Humanity is unable to outsmart any storm. They always know that a terrible hurricane or a snowstorm is coming, but many humans do not prepare themselves for it. Understanding that Mother Nature always wins is something that human nature lacks. Mother Nature does not care how many people are going to get hurt by the natural disasters that occur. Throughout each storm, hundreds of people can end up dead, or thousands of homes can be lost. However, human nature still lacks the understanding that Mother Nature can always outsmart humans.
Another example of how London uses symbolism is through the use of rebuilding a fire. The man realizes that in order to keep warm and survive longer, he has to build a fire. Unfortunately, he had to build multiple fires because his first fires kept failing or going out. After he built the first fire, it went out because snow fell on it. London states, “He should have built it in the open” (5). The man built several fires in different locations and he could not keep any of them going. London is showing how the fires represent trial and error in a natural disaster. Before Hurricane Katrina, President Bush signed a $10.4 billion aid package to the states affected by the hurricane. Also, there were thousands of volunteers from around the country to help the people who were affected by this disaster. Although there are ways to prevent hurricane damage, it is impossible for human nature to prevent a hurricane completely. This does not only apply to hurricanes. In this story, the man thinks that building a fire would solve a lot of his