51 pages 1 hour read

Jack London

To Build a Fire

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1902

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“To Build a Fire”

  • Genre: Fiction/Short Story
  • Originally Published: 1902
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Structure/Length: approx. 32 pages; 40 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: An unnamed male protagonist hikes through a forest in the Yukon in dangerously freezing temperatures and attempts to build a fire.

Jack London, Author

  • Bio: Born in 1876 in San Francisco, California; died in 1916; won first prize in a newspaper short story contest, which sparked his interest in writing for a living; attempted to make a fortune during the Klondike gold rush in the Yukon, where many of his stories are set
  • Other Works: The Call of the Wild (1903); White Fang (1906)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • The Dangers of Unimaginative Thinking
  • Acceptance of One’s Own Death
  • The Value of Natural Instincts

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the naturalism movement and its elements and apply this understanding to analysis and discussion of “To Build a Fire.”
  • Analyze short paired texts as well as other resources to make connections via the text’s themes of The Dangers of Unimaginative Thinking, Acceptance of One’s Own Death, and Value of Natural Instincts.
  • Incorporate the elements of naturalism in an original piece of writing.
  • Analyze story elements and the author’s techniques to draw conclusions in structured essay responses regarding the use of epiphany in the story, the dog’s perspective, the element of foreshadowing, and other topics.