ISC Echoes workbook solutions ‘To build a fire’ an adventurous fiction


To Build a Fire: by Jack London

Question: How is Jack London’s story ‘To build a Fire’ an adventurous fiction?

Answer: Adventure fiction refers to fiction that usually present danger, or gives the reader a sense of excitement.

   In adventure fiction, action is the key element , overshadowing the character, theme, and setting. The conflict in an adventure fiction is an action packed, fast- paced, plot in which a protagonist has to complete a quest or task in a short period of time which is having a thrilling climax.

      ‘To build a Fire’ can be read as an adventure fiction as the protagonist is in constant threat of being overpowered by the wilderness.

  • Man’s spirit of Adventure

       The unnamed protagonist of the story was filled with adventurous spirit. In spite of knowing the risks in involved, he started a nine hour long exciting journey through Yukon wilderness without a trail mate. 

    The man was a newcomer, “a chechaquo”, who was unfamiliar with Klondike’s harsh winter landscape. He was inexperienced as well as without imagination. He could not even figure out the coldness as he estimated seventy five below zero as fifty five below zero. This much low temperature did not bother him to contemplate about life and death. He only considered it as cold – a mere inconvenience. 

     He believed that harsh Klondike’s winter could be easily taken care of by the use of mittens, ear – flaps, warm moccasins, and thick socks. 

      The man was so taken over by his sense of adventure that he did not pay any heed on the advice of an old timer that, ” no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below. ” 

   He made fun of this advice by calling it ” rather womanish ” and undertook the challenging journey alone, except for a dog  and was 
    “travelling light” on foot rather then by sled and carrying only abacon sandwich, tobacco, matches and some birch bark.

      From the beginning it was made clear that the nature was against the man’s chance of survival. Though the man did not meditate upon his physical frailty as a creature of temperature ,he was startled when his “spittle had crackled in the air ” before it even hit the snow.

     During his trek, the man was confronted again and again by his weakness as a lone individual against the formidable power of the brutal cold. Each time he removed his gloves, the man was surprised at how fast his nose and cheeks froze, the juice that was being expelled from his mouth on chewing tobacco was instantly  freezing, his fingers went numb when he  unbuttoned his jacket and shirt to take out  his lunch. It was in such a deadly cold that  the man’s  adventurous spirit was at peak .

  • Man’s Thrilling Experiences

      The man had several thrilling experience while he journey ed through Yukon wilderness. He walked over the trail of snow and        “plunged in among the big spruce trees.” 

    He observed and noticed the changes in creeks, the curves and bends and was cautious  of the hidden streams under snow. “They were traps. They hid pools of water under the snow that might be three inches deep, or three feet. “

     He experienced numbness and excruciating pain in hands. Besides wetting himself to the knees, building a fire for the second time and seeing it die. 

It was as though he had just heard his own sentence of death. ” 

      These all were thrilling experiences which made his journey adventurous though these experiences also forced him to accept his fate and to die with dignity. 

     Thus, many of Jack London’s stories were published in adventure magazines and were written to satisfy a reading public that was fascinated by tales of daring exploits. 


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