Jack London as an Idealist Writer

The story resembles Shakespeare’s tragic playsas tension and anxiety mount up in the minds of the readers regarding the plight of the man who neglects the old timer’s warning that he needs to take someone with him in his journey through the icy cold wilderness. Jack London makes his narration poignant by rendering all the feelings and thoughts that pass through the man’s mind all throughout the story, and the heroic fight displayed by the man to avert his fate is best narrated by him. The story ultimately ends with the tragic death of the man who fails to cope up with the extreme cold. Jack London is regarded as an idealistic writer as his short stories always bring to the attention of the readers the ideas and ideals that pass through the minds and inner consciousness of his characters. The attempt of this paper is to unearth the idealistic traits in the short story and point out how far Jack London can be regarded as an idealistic writer.The Columbia Encyclopedia (2007) defines idealism as the “attitude that places special value on ideas and ideals as products of the mind, in comparison with the world as perceived through the senses.” (“Idealism,” 23491). The man in the story believes in his own ideas and the accepted general opinion that it is unsafe to travel through the wilderness alone does not change his attitude. Jack London was very much influenced by Nietzsche’s concept of the Overman and there is no wonder that the heroin “To Build a Fire” acts unlike the other humans and shows superhuman traits. In modern times idealism not only means “the source of ideas to man’s consciousness” but it also “proposes suprahuman mental activity of some sort and ascribes independent reality to certain principles.” (“Idealism,” 23491). One can come across a number of instances of idealism in the story. From the very outset of the story, the reader gets the impression that the man is not conscious of the real world or rather he lives in a world of his own. When the story opens one finds the man in darkness, but he is not worried of sunlight or the extreme cold: “ But all this—the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all—made no impression on the man.” (London).