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Fire means Knowledge

For Abner Snopes, fire serves as a great leveller. It removes the distinction between himself and those whom he resents, while putting him in the position of power to determine who will have and who will have not. He respects, then, the power of fire and is careful in his use of it.

While Abner Snopes uses fire as a means of punishment and vengeance, the protagonist in London's "To Build a Fire" uses fire as a means of salvation. London describes his protagonist as a man of no imagination who was "quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances" (88). This man stands alone with a dog in the Yukon in temperatures of seventy-five degrees below freezing and ponders nothing more than the time it will take him to reach his colleagues. For him, fire is nothing more than a means of warming himself when necessary. He is inhabiting a world where things are turned around; water means death and fire means life. Even after he falls into the hidden water and fire is the only thing standing between himself and death, he never really questions the ironies or significance of his situation. He is only concerned with trying to save as much of his body from frostbite as is possible.

The struggle London's protagonist undergoes is nothing more t


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Fire means Knowledge. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 14:59, October 25, 2014, from
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