Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Man Can't Beat Natural

Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” tells the story of an arrogant young man who, despite the advice of seasoned prospectors, attempts to cross the sub-zero Arctic wilderness with only his dog for support. He is counting down the hours until he reaches his destination when he falls through the ice and into the freezing river—a death sentence in this climate unless he can build a fire to dry off. With only minutes until his hands and body succumb to frostbite, the man rushes to gather wood and is finally able to start a roaring blaze when the snow hanging in the tree above him chooses that exact moment to fall; covering his fire and sealing his fate. Panicked and with hands too numb to accomplish even the simplest of tasks, he is only dimly aware of the flames singeing his skin as he attempts to light a match with his wrists. After his last match flickers to nothing, the man flees in an insane rage toward camp but cannot run for long before he succumbs to hypothermia and collapses. The story ends as the dog cheerfully sets out toward home, ignoring its master’s frozen corpse.

I found the following synopsis of this gut-wrenching story tossed in the recycling bin of the eighth grade special ed room:

In the short storty “To Build a Fire” [A helpful teacher has added in the title] By Jack london,” A man is walking to camp. He Has to walk in sevendy five degree Below zero wether. He tries to biuld a fire to warm up But it is on segsecful. Jack london thought man can’t beat naturl.

Somehow, existential statements about the futility of mankind take on a simple fortitude when written by an eighth grader with capitalization issues.

1 comment:

Danicus Rex said...

I saw this when you found it, and I still laughed this time around.