To Build a Fire

The central conflict in this story “To Build a Fire” is both external and internal as portrayed by the playwright Jack London. The central character man is in great conflict with nature around him, the only companion of his, a husky wolf-dog and other indirect characters such as “the old timer”.

Virtually, all these conflicts remain unresolved from the beginning of the man’s journey on the Yukon Trail to the point of his last breath on the Henderson Creek when died from frostbite. Throughout the journey, the new comer in the Henderson Creek is also in deep conflict with himself more so after realizing that he has himself to blame wholly for the problems that beleaguered him on the Yukon Trail during the arctic winter. The central idea in the story is that all men must obey the call of nature and take heed of others’ advice in order to prosper in new territories otherwise they are bound to face the full wrath of the unknown. Through the central character, London demonstrates in the story that none can survive the sting of nature unless one bows to its commands. The central conflict in the story is largely external. The first conflict in the story is between nature and man.

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The newcomer in the Henderson Creek defies all advices and is determined to go against nature by travelling through the Yukon Trail to meet his friends at the junction. He adamantly goes against nature in all aspect while on the Henderson Creek; he insists he must travel on the Yukon Trail while nature demands he must not. In the long run nature carries that day when the insolent dies from frostbite. The second category of conflict is between “the old timer” and the man; the former advises the latter on how to survive the Henderson Creek but he adamantly refused to take heed. Another incidence of external conflict in the story is the constant squabbles between man and the dog.

The human hates all the moves made by the dog in a bid to enhance its survival on the snow contrary to the man’s actions. He insists on running and moving while the husky wolf dog is guided its powerful instinct on nature not to move a lot but lie burrowed on the snow. The behavioral conflict went on unresolved uuntil the unexpected death of man on the Henderson Creek. This is the most pronounced kind of external conflict ever illustrated by London in the story. Through the actions of the main character man, the internal conflict is apparent in him. Every single time that character static character bounces on a problem out of his insolence, he makes a move against his wishes.

His inability to decide whether to make a fire or move on with the journey when he is overwhelmed by extremely cold temperatures and frost on the Henderson Creek- a deadly move he made ever- is a clear indicator of internal conflict. Similarly, at the point of his death, man hates himself with all hatred after reality dawn to him that he was solely liable for his imminent death after failing to take heed of “the old timer” and behavioral trends of his companion dog. In collusion, conflict is the centralized theme of the story “To Build a Fire” by Jacj London. The round character man is in deep conflict with other indirect characters throughout the plot of the story.