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Jack London

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  • "To Build a Fire"

    Jack London

    Jack London, author of "To Build a Fire," was actually raised from infancy by his black foster mother and ex-slave.  He worked long hours in a factory in San Francisco and decided to become a writer to escape this lifestyle.  London was a strong supporter of women's rights and prohibition.  He was also a member of the Socialist Party of America.  London wrote from a socialist point of view which grew out of his life experience.  He is best known for his novels White Fang and Call of the Wild.

    London's "To Build a Fire" is a great example of Naturalism. If you are unsure what that is, refer back to Week 5 and look at the "Introduction to Realism" lesson.  It explores man's relationship with nature and how nature is more powerful than man.  The major conflict in the story is man vs. nature, and you will have to read the story to find out who wins.  As you read, notice the point-of-view the author uses.  London uses a third-person omniscient point-of-view, which means the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters in the story.

    You can find the text of the story here and an audio version here. As you read, try to take on the perspective of a Psychoanalytic critic. Picture the story as a dream to be analyzed. What does it say about the author? What does it reveal about the "hidden life" of the author? What can be revealed about the "secret life" of the characters? What do your reactions say about you?

    Check out the video below for a screen-adaptation of this famous short story.  It's old-school, but it's great!


    Works Cited
    Jack London  2 Sept 2012
    Gradesaver 2 Sept 2012
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