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Overconfidence and Arrogance in Jack London's

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Logan Buccolo American Literature October 15, 2003 Overconfidence and Arrogance in Jack London's "To Build a Fire" Overconfidence and arrogance led to the death of the man in Jack London's "To Build a Fire." This overconfidence in his own abilities led to him making poor decisions and scorning the advice of those who know what they are talking about. Instead, he laughs at the old man after he tells him "a man should travel with a partner" (1769) and goes out into the frigid weather anyway. He knew that it was 75 degrees below zero and that his body was numb but he didn't care because he thought he could handle it. Even when he was about to die he thought, "freezing to death is not as bad as people thought it was"(1772) ...read more.


When he lit the last fire he smelled his flesh burning, he could not feel it. In his arrogance, the man disregarded the warnings of nature, and terrible cold. In the end the man finally realizes the seriousness of the situation that his arrogance has put him in. A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. This fear quickly became poignant as he realized that it was no longer a mere matter of freezing his fingers and toes, or losing his hands and feet, but that it was a matter of life and death with the chances against him. Without a doubt, the man now realized that the Yukon had already defeated him. Panicking, the man ran around again "like a chicken with its head cut off,"(1772) ...read more.


In Proverbs 16:8 in the bible it says, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,"(Proverbs 16:8) and this is exactly what happened to the man. Pride is what made the man think that he could brave the wilderness and cold of the harsh Yukon Territory. Pride is a common element in many stories and seems to always lead to the misfortune of the prideful. Some of London's own stories deal with pride. Although not a story of human pride, the novel The Call of the Wild deals with Buck's fight against the proud Spitz. In Jack London's "To Build a Fire" the man in the story is killed by his overconfidence and arrogance in his ability and knowledge to withstand the cold of the frigid Yukon. As a result, he freezes to death wishing he had taken the advice of the old man who represented knowledge and wisdom. ...read more.

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