Realism in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London
Realist literature is considered as literary realism. It is a part of realist art movement to present things in their native or original form. There is no place for elaboration and Imagination. Realism was started so that people can know the reality of actual world. On the other hand, naturalism literature considered as a type of extreme realism. It emphasizes on the roles of family in a person life. It also tries to explain the social values in their raw forms. It also depicts the environmental condition which have great impact on character building of a person.
In “To Build a Fire”, Naturalism is shown to be a simple fact that is unchangeable. Nature is shown to be Powerful and Unrelenting. The presentation of Nature in ” To Build a Fire” says how Nature is not bothered by Man. It is an individual in itself and should not be challenged or taken for granted as it can turn into the most notorious troubles to Man. Knowledge is all the information and facts that Man relies upon to approach a situation. According to “To Build a Fire”, it can cloud a Man’s instinctive Judgement and makes him think himself to be Powerful. Instinct is the Natural observation, Presence in the moment, Connection with nature to get answers. It is to bow to Nature and listen to it. To Build a Fire” is basically a story of a younger miner. He comes to a place named as Yukon with a motive to find gold.
This story depicts the struggle of man against the nature. He tries to fight with nature along with scarcity of food and other necessary important equipment. , “the man did not know cold, possibly all the generations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of the real cold, of cold one hundred and seven degrees below freezing- point” (London, p 1117). This description demonstrates that the main character was built to endure those types of temperatures. Throughout the story, he possesses great mental strength and remains calm throughout the aching pains of his limbs freezing. However, nature does test his mental and physical abilities by numbing his face, hands, and feet which made travel very difficult. Nevertheless, he tends to stay in touch with reality by implementing ways to stay warm.
After long, warmth began to wear off which caused the character to experience forms of distress and panic. In comparison, this relates to realism because of the “real” raw emotion of how he strategically plans to make it home and even mentally preparing for death. Furthermore, naturalism stems from realism because of the way humans react to extreme circumstances. In this case, being faced with harsh weather conditions has led the main character to revert to ancestral human instincts by having thoughts of killing his dog, who accompanied him, to stay warm by using its fur.
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