“To Build a Fire” Reading Questions

“To Build a Fire” Reading Questions
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1. Why do you think the protagonist is referred to as “the man” as
opposed to being given a name?
Because the man was dull and so was his character so it made since that
he should have a dull name.
2. What is the weather like at day break when the story begins? What do
you think this foreshadows for the rest of the story?
The weather is gloomy in the beginning of the story. I think this
foreshadows death and dullness.
3. London writes, “He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only
in the things, and not in the significances”. What does this tell us
about the man? What is his character like?
I think this means that the man was a very sure of himself and that he
thought that he didn’t need to look farther than the surface. The man’s
character was very dull.
4. How are the man and the dog similar? How are they different?
The man and the dog are similar because they both feel the cold, the
difference is that the dog wants to burrow up in front of a fire while the
man wants to keep on going to meet the boys.
5. Why doesn’t the man worry more about the cold? What is
alarming/absurd about his reaction to the frostbite?
The man doesn’t worry more about the cold because he thinks of himself
as invincible. The thing that’s absurd about his reaction to frostbite is
that he thinks of frostbite as something that is okay to have. He says I
guess I’ll lose a couple of toes.
6. Why do you think London continues to emphasize the coldness, and
how the man had never felt such cold before?
London continues to emphasize the coldness because it’s the antagonist
and London wants us to feel the cold that the man feels.
7. Why does the man “shy like a horse” from certain parts of the road?
The man “shies like a horse” from certain part of the road because under
these certain part of the road there could be up to three feet of water.
8. Do you agree or disagree with the man when he sends the dog ahead
of himself to aid in his own safety? What would you do?
I disagree, instead of using an animal I would use a long stick and test every
step before going ahead.
9. Why does London point out that the dog acts from instinct?
London points this out because he wants us to see the difference between the
way the dog acts on instinct and the man acts on will.
10.While eating, what startles the man? Why is this important?
The man is startled at the speed of which his hand is getting numb. This is
important because that is signal that he might have been getting frostbite. If
he had stopped and stayed at the fire he could have saved himself.
11.After deciding not to eat his lunch, how does the man’s outlook of his
situation drastically, although briefly, change?
The man's outlook becomes more desperate as he realizes that he could have
made a fatal mistake.
12.What do you think London means when he says, “This man did not
know cold”?
I think London meant that the man had never experienced cold like that
13.When he falls in the river, the man curses his bad luck. Do you agree
with where he places his blame? Why or why not?
I disagree because if the man had been more careful he could have avoided
stepping in the river
14.In the paragraph where the man reflects on “old-timers” and “men
who are men” what do you think of his mentality and beliefs?
I think this is a bad mentality because it ended up getting him killed.
15.What happens to the man’s fire and why?
The man's fire was extinguished by falling snow, the snow fell because the
man was taking twigs from that tree and it made the snow become off
16.What difficulty occurs when the man finally lights all of his matches
at once?
He can't grip the wood he wants to light.
17.When the man contemplates “using” his dog for survival, how does
the dog react?
The dog reacts by trusting it's instincts and running away from the man.
18.What is the flaw in the man’s plan when he begins to run to camp?
Te flaw is that the man doesn't have the endurance to run as far as he was
planning to go.
19.Why does the man start to yell at the dog?
The man starts to yell because he thought the dog was his last chance at
20.How does the dog know to leave and head to the camp?
The dog knows because of its instincts and because he hadn't ever seen a
man lay in the snow without lighting a fire so he knew something was