Essay on Conflicts of “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

Literature focuses on many aspects to form a coherent and captivating story, mainly those aspects retaining to characters and conflict. Within any story, a conflict arises for a character to overcome which drives the whole story. Conflict, the struggle against many forces of multiple varieties, creates the obstacle or issue a character must face to advance past the problem. In “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, conflict plays a major role in the story. The conflicts of man fighting against nature and man against himself present the struggles the unidentified man from “To Build a Fire” faces and attempts to overcome. These conflicts of man and nature influence the whole story and the fate of the character.The great and disastrous impact of nature against man proves to play a central role as an external conflict in London’s short story. The extreme cold and immense amount of snow has a powerful and dangerous hold against the man. The numbing cold proved so chilling that the man could not even spit without the spit freezing. “He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air.”(604). That deadly force of nature goes on to further challenge the man, preventing him from continuing his goal. “At a place where there were no signs, where the soft unbroken snow seemed to advertise solidity beneath, the man broke through.”(608). At this point in the story, nature overtakes the man, a conflict that directly stops him from achieving his goal, establishing nature as an external conflict providing the man with a struggle.The external conflict of nature against man never becomes resolved, as nature ends the man and his goals. For example, the severe cold weather prevented the man fro…

…nd physical struggle. “He did not belong to himself anymore. . .”(614).The external conflict of man against nature and the internal conflict of man against himself play a huge role in the whole story, leading to the fateful outcome of the man. The man fell victim to the struggles the conflicts presented, majorly impacting the story. “To Build a Fire” encompasses the idea of man becoming his own enemy and people remaining insignificant to forces of natures. The conflicts presented in the story embody the aspect of nature as an unstoppable, unpredictable, and powerful force that easily overtakes man. That thought shows how one man has little effect on nature, and in the end, does the most harm by subjecting oneself to nature’s fury. The story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London truly shows how weak an unprepared person compares to the unruly forces of nature.

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