Survival in the Wild: Jack London’s To Build a Fire and Arthur Gordon’s Sea Devil

Anxiety, suspense, hesitation, and death; these all revolve around survival, which lets humans go over their limits and see what they’re really capable of. Survival is a mix of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Though there are many stories that challenges man over his abilities, there are two stories that show survival that question our dominance as human beings. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London and “Sea Devil” by Arthur Gordon are both about characters that have caught themselves in a battle between man and nature. In “To Build a Fire” the man is facing freezing temperatures and in “Sea Devil” the man is being pulled and swept along by a Manta Ray. These stories illustrate that to survive you need to always be thinking of what to do and know that every small decision can have huge effects. Two types of survival used were mental and physical; characters in both these stories have to overcome mental and physical challenges.

In “To Build a Fire” it shows how not to survive and to lead to one’s demise. One example of this is that the man is very ignorant to his surroundings and how they can contribute to his survival or demise. The man doesn’t think of his physical injuries and their importance. To survive you need to go through pain by taking precautions to save one, but the man did not do this. It says in the text, “What were frosted cheeks? A bit painful, that was all; they were never serious.”(London 23). This quote shows how the man is not aware of the seriousness of his frosted cheeks. Ignorance of his frosted cheeks later contributes to his demise later in the story. This tells that to survive you have to be aware and alert of everything, so “To Build a Fire” shows lack of physical survival because the man is tr…

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…l survival.Two types of survival that were demonstrated in these stories were physical and mental. Overall the man in “Sea Devil” survived because he used his mental strength to make a plan to escape the Manta Ray. Overall in “To Build a Fire” the man dies because he had made too many mistakes due to his arrogance and over confidence that led him to get many of his body parts frozen and die because of the temperature. Survival lets humans go over their usual abilities. Though this is true, sometimes people take the wrong path to survival and do not survive at all. We humans think nothing can stop us, but many things can; we just underestimate them. Human’s think they are the most high, but we aren’t and never entirely will be.

Works Cited

Gordon,Arthur. “Sea Devil”. Saturday Evening Post.May 1998

London, Jack. “To Build a Fire”. Century Magazine. August 1908


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