To Build a Fire Themes

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Early in the story, it becomes clear that the odds are against the man's chances of surviving in the Klondike wilderness. He is a chechaquo, or newcomer to the region, and has never before experienced its extreme winters. Further, he is "traveling light"—on foot rather than by sled and carrying only a bacon sandwich, tobacco, matches, and some birch-bark kindling. What is more, he is outdoors in temperatures well below minus fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Although he has been warned never to travel "after fifty below" without a partner who can help him in emergencies, the man's only companion on this trek is a half-wild husky—a "toil-slave" who has no affection for him. At the best of times the Klondike wilderness would seem alien to the newcomer because of its vast stretches of snow ("as far as his eye could see it...

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This section contains 752 words
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Short Stories for Students
To Build a Fire from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.