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February 2022

To Build a Fire

The Danger of Arrogance

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To be arrogant to be foolish. In ”To Build a Fire” by Jack London, the man’s arrogance toward nature led to his death. The man, being egotistical, ignored the old man’s advice about not traveling in below 75 degrees weather. The man was too stubborn to  understand how bad the situation was, and he “scorned the advice of those who know what they are talking about. After the old man told him not to travel 70 degreeslow zero. At first, the man did not believe him. Until this time, when the man finally got in trouble for freezing his body parts, he started regretting his decision to travel alone. 

That man from Sulphur Creek had spoken the truth when telling how cold it sometimes got in this country. And he had laughed at him at the time! That showed one must not be too sure of things. There was no mistake about it, it was cold. (1)

Cram.com explores this arrogant pride even further:

With this sense of arrogance, the man seems to do everything in his will throughout the journey to successfully master the inclement weather in which ultimately was a fatal mistake before the man even began the travel. Pride goes before destruction. (2)


In “To Build a Fire,” Hemingway explores the theme of nature facing off against men; he creates a character in the man to demonstrate how his arrogance cost his life; furthermore, he weaves a story where his [the man's] “...pride is connected to his sense of being a Man with a capital M.” (3) The man thought he could travel zero below seventy-five degrees; however, the old man did tell him not to; however, the man ignored the advice and it cost him his life. So, it turns out that “…it's also just plain old hubris”  from the man.

 

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