Look at your responses that you prepared earlier about your Short Story. In your group, discuss your answers. Try to be sure everyone in your group has a chance to talk about what they have written.

  1. Discuss the personality of the man. What does he seem to think about his own abilities? How does he behave in relation to his environment?
  2. What are some of the mistakes in judgment that the man makes during the course of the story?
  3. What does the man’s failure to “build a fire” symbolize?
  4. How would you characterize the man's relationship to the dog? How might the story have been different if there were keen intimacy between the man and his canine?
  5. What is the significance of the dog’s final movement towards civilization at the end of the story? What does this suggest about the dog’s relationship to nature?
  6. Even today, stories of wilderness survival are extremely popular. Why do you think this is? What is it about wilderness survival that keeps audiences coming back for more?
  7. How can we read "To Build a Fire" as a cautionary tale? What lesson can we take away from it that's relevant beyond the story's Yukon setting?
  8. This story takes place around the year 1900. How might the story be different if it took place today?

After you have read and discussed the Short Story, use the link to look at the TV program of the story which was made in 1969, which runs about 50 minutes. In what ways does the TV version change the story? Is anything left out? Is anything added? Do any of the changes make a difference when trying to understand the stories main idea and message?

To Build a Fire

The video shows the story written by Jack London.