To Build a Fire: Man’s Intelligence is Foolish EssayHow many times have you seen birds flying south for the winter? They donot read somewhere or use some computer to know that they must fly to survive.
In Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”, we see how that mans intelligence issometimes foolish. The man, who is walking in seventy-five degrees below zeroweather, lets his learned behavior override his instinct. Therefore, he dies. London’s theme is that no matter how intelligent society becomes, we as aspecies should never discard our basic instincts. In the beginning of the tale we see that the man realizes it is cold,but only sees this as a fact and not a danger.Order now
The man spit on the ground totest how cold it was. His test taught him that it was colder than he had firstthought, but he never thought of that as a danger only as a reality. “Thatthere should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never enteredhis head” (119). To many times modern man plods along oblivious to the realitythat lies one moment or misstep away (Votleler 272).
The man sees that he is feeling the effects of the cold more and more ashe goes along, but more than ever he pushes on. Several times he comments thatthe cold is making his hands and feet numbed, and frostbite is killing hischeeks. He thinks “What were frosted cheek? A bit painful, that was all. .
. “(120). Again he chose to ignore an instinct that would have saved him. The dog, on the other hand, although guided by his learned behaviorstill retains his instincts.
The dog follows the man throughout his ill fadedjourney, but after the man perishes he relies upon his instincts to survive. This is witnessed in the last paragraph by the statement “Then it turnedand trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where there wereother food providers and fire providers” (129). The theme of London’s “To Build a Fire” is how we should all take heedto modern knowledge and learned behavior has its benefits, but our primalinstincts should never have ignored. The man in the story had lots of knowledgebut neglected to pay attention to his “sixth sense.” The dog on the other hand,followed as long as he could but then let his instincts carry him to safety.Wecan never have enough knowledge to replace the survival skill that nature hasprovided us.English .