Man Versus Nature in To Build a Fire, a Short Story by Jack London

Topics: To Build A Fire

In “To Build a Fire”, the author is against nature, and thinks he can overcome it without any outside help. He is traveling with a dog that he isn’t close to and doesn’t own, through the snowy mountains. He doesn’t have supplies and didn’t expect to be out there long, and thought he would be fine. What he didn’t know was that the temperature was in the negatives, and without a fire and shelter, he would freeze to death.

The man travels through, and is making good time, until he walks out onto a frozen over lake, which isn’t completely frozen. The man shrugs off the sign of nature once again, when the dog refuses to walk on the ice. This should have given him a sign that the ice was not safe and he should find another way around. The story concludes when he isn’t able to build a fire after his first one is put out by falling snow, and he dies of hypothermia.

“Leiningen verses the Ants” is about an arrogant man who owns a plantation. He refuses to move out of the way of ants that eat everything in their path. He doesn’t want to give up his years of hard work and lose the plantation, so he decides to stay in their path, even though they will be reaching his location in a few days. Leiningen refuses, after being warned many times, to retreat out of the ant’s pathway, so he comes up with plans of detouring them and goes up to face the ant’s invasion rather than backing away and letting them have control.

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Man vs. Nature is when men or a person can’t get along with nature, or stands ground when nature poses a threat. An example of this conflict is when a man hunts animals, they are against nature and are posing a threat. Another example would be when you are stuck in the wild and have to survive. The Man vs. Nature can be in the form of men, women, or people in general against animals, weather, natural disasters, etc.

“To Build A Fire” is Man vs. Nature conflict because the man is hiking through the mountains in cold temperatures, and is ignorant to the warnings and help that is offered, and takes it into his own hands, when nature is the one holding the cards. He gets stranded and builds a fire, but snow falls from trees above and puts the fire out. The man can’t build another, and ends up freezing to death. Nature and the man are against each other, and the man does not take offers and goes on his own decisions when nature poses a threat to him, which causes death upon him. “Leiningen verses the Ants” is also Man vs. Nature because when nature, the ants, poses a threat to Leiningen’s plantation, he is ignorant to the warnings and advice from others, and instead takes his own advice on not backing down and giving up to the ants. Instead, he stands up against them, risking his life and taking a crazy risk to save his plantation and to save anything and anyone from their future path of attack. When nature posed a threat to him, Leiningen stands up and fights against the ants, with injuries, but surviving and stopping any future damage the ants were to cause on towns and people. These stories are very similar, in their resemblance with Man vs. Nature conflict, seeing as how they are both about a man up against a fight with nature, one with a man against nature itself, as in the weather, and the other about a man against a swarm of ants that eat and destroy everything in their path. Man vs. Nature is a very common and important conflict in literature.

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Man Versus Nature in To Build a Fire, a Short Story by Jack London. (2021, Dec 23). Retrieved from

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