good thesis statement for to build a fire

To Build a Fire

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“To Build a Fire” by Jack London: Analysis

“To Build a Fire” by Jack London, a short story first published in 1908, has become one of his most renowned works.

"To Build a Fire" by Jack London: Analysis

Introduction: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

Table of Contents

“To Build a Fire” by Jack London , a short story first published in 1908, has become one of his most renowned works. The tale’s popularity has endured since its debut, with translations into numerous languages and adaptations across various mediums by filmmakers and television producers. London masterfully depicts the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness, building tension and suspense throughout the narrative. The story’s allure stems from its vivid portrayal of nature and its examination of human resilience in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Main Events in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

  • A man sets out in extreme cold: A newcomer to the Yukon, lacking experience with extreme cold, travels alone with his dog on a day when temperatures are far below zero. He ignores advice from an experienced man at Sulphur Creek, who warns him against traveling alone in such conditions.
  • The man ignores warning signs: He dismisses the initial cold, fails to heed the subtle signs of danger like spit freezing in the air, and even scoffs at the idea that anyone could freeze to death in such temperatures.
  • A hidden danger: The man confidently navigates until he misjudges a hidden spring beneath the snow, plunging his feet into freezing water that quickly soaks his boots and socks.
  • The struggle to build a fire: Recognizing the immediate danger, he carefully selects a sheltered spot beneath a spruce tree and sets about building a fire to dry his feet and stave off death.
  • Failure and panic: Snow cascading from the tree’s branches smothers his first fire. Fear intensifies as he realizes the severity of his situation.
  • A second attempt: Driven by increasing desperation, he gathers more wood and tinder, meticulously placing them to build his second fire.
  • Challenges mount: His severely frozen hands, now lacking any feeling, fumble with the matches and struggle to grasp small twigs to fuel the fire.
  • A sense of doom: As his final fire falters, a wave of overwhelming dread washes over him, and he understands that he may not survive.
  • A shift toward instinct: He imagines killing his dog and using its warm body for shelter, a desperate survival tactic he had heard about, but ultimately cannot bring himself to do it.
  • Acceptance and death: Overcome by the cold and despair, the man gives up his struggle, envisioning his own frozen body discovered by his friends. He drifts into unconsciousness and dies.

Literary Devices in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

1. Imagery : London uses vivid sensory details to bring the Yukon’s harsh environment to life.

  • “…the Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow.”

2. Personification : Nature is often given human-like qualities, reinforcing its power and indifference.

  • “The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet…”

3. Symbolism : Key elements take on deeper meanings.

  • Fire: Represents survival, hope, struggle against nature
  • The Dog: Embodies instinct and a contrasting survival strategy

4. Foreshadowing : Hints of the man’s fate are scattered throughout.

  • The old-timer at Sulphur Creek’s warnings about the danger of the extreme cold.

5. Dramatic Irony : Readers know the peril the man remains blind to, increasing tension.

  • “He was a newcomer in the land… and he did not understand how seriously low temperatures could be.”

6. Situational Irony : The outcome clashes with expectations, emphasizing nature’s power.

  • The man’s meticulous second fire fails despite being better planned than his first.

7. Simile : Creative comparisons enhance descriptions.

  • “The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.”

8. Metaphor : Implied comparisons add depth and meaning. * “The dog… was a furry ball of instinct…”

9. Naturalism : The story emphasizes humanity’s vulnerability to nature’s forces.

  • The man’s intellect fails in the face of brutal, unforgiving elements.

10. Contrast: Differences highlight character and theme. * The man’s overconfidence vs. the dog’s wariness * The man’s intellect vs. the dog’s instinct

11. Juxtaposition : Placing elements side-by-side creates contrast * The cozy images of camp life are juxtaposed with the man’s exposed, solitary journey.

12. Diction : Word choice builds atmosphere and theme. * “It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things…”

13. Tone : Bleak and increasingly ominous as the story progresses, mirrors the protagonist’s situation.

14. Mood : A sense of dread and foreboding permeates the narrative.

15. Allusion : Subtle reference strengthens meaning and theme. * London alludes to Mercury, the Roman god of travel, commenting on the irony of moving so fast with frozen feet.

Characterization in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

Major themes in “to build a fire” by jack london.

  • The man’s struggle against the unforgiving Yukon wilderness.
  • His vulnerability against the overwhelming power of natural forces (extreme cold, hidden dangers).
  • The man’s dismissal of the old-timer’s warnings and his underestimation of the cold.
  • His overconfidence and lack of understanding of the environment’s dangers directly lead to his demise.
  • The contrast between the man’s reliance on logic and the dog’s instinctual understanding of the danger.
  • The man’s intellect fails him; survival in the wilderness might have been possible with a more instinctual response.
  • The delicate balance required for survival in extreme conditions.
  • The stark reality that one misstep can have fatal consequences.
  • The man’s solitary journey emphasizes his lack of support and resources.
  • The dog’s presence provides minimal companionship but also highlights what the man lacks – a human connection that might have influenced his journey and decisions.

Writing Style in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

  • Objective, observational tone, focused on external actions and events.
  • Example: “The man plunged into the big creek, and he went down to his knees.”
  • Minimalist descriptions and straightforward sentences emphasize the bleak environment.
  • Example: “The Yukon lay…hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow.”
  • Specific sensory details bring the Yukon wilderness to life.
  • Example: “…the whole face of Nature seemed to be trying to obliterate itself.”
  • Careful word choice creates a strong sense of foreboding and isolation.
  • Example: “It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things…”
  • Repeated descriptions of the cold and numbness, emphasize their relentless impact.
  • Example: “[His] feet were freezing…,” “[His] nose and cheeks were already freezing…”
  • Subtle hints at the man’s fate increase tension.
  • Example: The old-timer warning the man against traveling alone in such cold.

Literary Theories and Interpretation of “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

Note: This is just a sampling! There are other theories that could be applied (e.g., Marxist, psychological, feminist).

Questions and Thesis Statements about “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

  • Choose a question that interests you: The best thesis statements come from genuine curiosity.
  • Be specific in your thesis: A focused thesis leads to a stronger paper.
  • Link your thesis to evidence: Be prepared to cite examples from the story supporting your argument.

Short Question-Answer about “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

  • The title “To Build a Fire” highlights the central theme of man versus nature. The man’s initial success building a fire to warm himself represents survival. His subsequent failure to maintain a fire, ultimately leading to his demise, emphasizes the harsh reality of the natural world and the importance of human preparation and adaptation in the face of nature’s power.
  • The man and the dog have a complicated relationship in the story. While the man initially views the dog as a mere tool for survival (possibly sensing warmth), the dog seems to sense danger and discomfort with the journey. Their relationship demonstrates the contrast between the man’s arrogance and reliance on intellect, and the dog’s instinct and wariness of the environment.
  • The extreme cold, harsh weather conditions, and unforgiving landscape contribute to the bleak, hopeless, and fatalistic tone. Specific details like “…the Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow…” convey the isolation and danger, emphasizing the fragility of human life in the face of nature’s power.
  • The man’s lack of imagination, directly noted by London (“He was a newcomer in the land…and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.”), emphasizes his inability to adapt to his surroundings. It highlights the limitations of knowledge and technology against nature’s power. His reliance on judgment and logic fails him; he disregards the old-timer’s warnings and even his body’s signals, leading to his underestimation of the weather’s severity and his lack of preparation.

Suggested Readings: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

Literary analysis & criticism.

  • Focuses on survival in London’s works, including “To Build a Fire”.
  • Explores recurring themes and techniques across London’s short stories.
  • Provides a helpful overview of Naturalism and its key themes.
  • Considered a classic scholarly work on American literary Naturalism.
  • Brief summary and analysis of the story.
  • Extensive website with biographical information, resources, and links to other relevant sites

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good thesis statement for to build a fire

Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Books — To Build a Fire

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Essays on To Build a Fire

“to build a fire” essay, types of "to build a fire" essays:.

  • Character Analysis: This type of essay focuses on analyzing the main character in the story and their personality traits, motivations, and actions.
  • Literary Analysis: A literary analysis essay explores the literary devices used in the story, such as symbolism, imagery, and foreshadowing.
  • Theme Analysis: This type of essay examines the major themes of the story, including the struggle between man and nature, the power of instinct over reason, and the inevitability of death.

Character Analysis Essay

  • Choose a character: Start by choosing the character you want to analyze. It can be the protagonist or any other character that interests you.
  • Gather evidence: Read the story carefully and take notes on the character's actions, dialogue, and thoughts. This will help you gather evidence to support your analysis.
  • Identify traits: Identify the character's personality traits, including their strengths and weaknesses. Consider how these traits affect their behavior and decisions.
  • Provide evidence: Use direct quotes and specific examples from the story to support your analysis. This will help you make a strong argument and convince your reader.
  • Discuss the impact: Consider the character's impact on the story and the other characters. How do they shape the plot and the other characters' actions?

Literary Analysis Essay

  • Start by reading the story carefully and taking notes on the literary elements you observe. Pay attention to the story's setting, characters, themes, and symbols.
  • Choose a specific literary element to focus on in your essay. For example, you might choose to analyze how the story's setting contributes to the overall tone and mood of the story.
  • Use evidence from the text to support your analysis. Look for specific quotes or examples from the story that illustrate the literary element you are discussing.
  • Consider the historical and cultural context in which the story was written. How might the author's experiences and worldview have influenced the story?
  • Avoid simply summarizing the story or retelling the plot. Instead, focus on analyzing how the literary elements work together to create meaning.

Theme Analysis Essay

  • Read the story several times: Before starting to write, it is crucial to understand the plot and the elements that contribute to the theme. Take notes on the characters, setting, and events that contribute to the theme.
  • Identify the theme: Analyze the story's plot and characters to determine the central message or theme. The theme may be implicit, so look for patterns and repeated ideas in the story.
  • Develop a thesis statement: Craft a clear and concise thesis statement that summarizes the main idea of the essay and the argument you will be making.
  • Use evidence from the story: To support your argument, use direct quotes and examples from the story. Analyze how these examples contribute to the development of the theme.
  • Provide context: Discuss the historical and cultural context of the story to provide a deeper understanding of the theme and how it relates to the time period in which the story was written.
  • Edit and revise: Once the essay is written, take the time to edit and revise for clarity, coherence, and organization. Ensure that each paragraph supports the thesis statement and that the essay flows logically.

Tips for Choosing a "To Build a Fire" Essay Topic:

  • Look for a unique angle: Instead of writing about a common topic, try to find a unique angle to explore. For example, you could focus on how the story portrays the relationship between humans and animals.
  • Use quotes: Incorporating quotes from the story can help support your argument and add depth to your analysis.
  • Consider the historical context: Jack London wrote "To Build a Fire" during the Klondike Gold Rush, and the story reflects the harsh conditions faced by prospectors during this time. Consider how the historical context influences the story's themes and message.

Prompt Examples for "To Build a Fire" Essays

The theme of survival.

Discuss the theme of survival in "To Build a Fire." Analyze the protagonist's struggle for survival in the harsh Yukon wilderness. What obstacles does he face, and how does he attempt to overcome them? Explore the significance of nature as an antagonist in the story.

The Power of Instinct vs. Intellect

Examine the conflict between instinct and intellect in the story. Discuss the protagonist's reliance on reason and his dog's reliance on instinct. How do these contrasting approaches to survival affect the outcome of the narrative?

Nature as a Character

Explore the role of nature as a character in "To Build a Fire." Analyze how nature is personified and how it interacts with the protagonist throughout the story. Discuss the story's portrayal of the Yukon environment and its impact on the characters.

The Use of Foreshadowing

Analyze the author's use of foreshadowing in the narrative. Discuss how the story hints at the protagonist's fate through foreshadowing. Explore the effectiveness of this literary device in building tension and suspense.

The Significance of the Man's Hubris

Discuss the protagonist's overconfidence and hubris as significant elements in the story. How does his belief in his own abilities contribute to his downfall? Analyze the consequences of his arrogance in the face of nature's power.

The Symbolism of Fire

Examine the symbolism of fire in "To Build a Fire." Discuss how fire represents warmth, life, and survival in the wilderness. Analyze the protagonist's relationship with fire and how it evolves throughout the story.

The Role of the Dog

Explore the role of the dog in the story. Discuss how the dog serves as a contrast to the protagonist and as a symbol of instinctual wisdom. Analyze the dog's actions and reactions throughout the narrative.

The Man vs. Nature Trope

Discuss the recurring "man vs. nature" trope in literature and how it is exemplified in "To Build a Fire." Analyze how this theme has been explored in other literary works and how Jack London's story contributes to this theme.

The Narrative's Setting

Examine the significance of the story's setting in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. Discuss how the historical and geographical context adds depth to the narrative. Analyze how the setting influences the characters and their actions.

The Impact of Isolation

Analyze the theme of isolation in "To Build a Fire." Discuss how the protagonist's isolation in the wilderness contributes to his perilous situation. Explore the psychological and emotional effects of isolation on the character.

Analysis of Traveller in Jack London’s to Build a Fire

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Critical Analysis of to Build a Fire by Jack London

Human flaws and the importance of the open mind in jack london’s 'to build a fire', realism in jack london’s to build a fire and stephen crane’s a mystery of heroism, fighting nature: animalistic instinct in jack london’s "to build a fire", let us write you an essay from scratch.

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Chain Smoking: Causal Links in to Build a Fire

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To Build a Fire by Jack London

Jack london's short story to build a fire.

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To Build A Fire Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Pets , Nature , Fire , Dog , England , Thinking , Literature , London

Words: 1200

Published: 02/09/2020

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Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" tells the tale of a man and his dog, who attempt to survive in the Yukon. The harsh weather soon leaves them stranded, leaving them to take different methods to keep themselves alive. The attempt to build a fire takes up the majority of the story, as the man attempts to keep himself warm. The conflict between instinct and logic is told through symbolism and metaphor; the protagonist learns all too well that relying on logic is foolhardy, and that instinct must also be a component to his survival. Nature is shown to be an incredibly heartless and unfeeling entity – something to survive rather than work with. In this way, “To Build a Fire” is about the relationship between man and the natural world, and how his own acclimation to civilization has prevented him from learning how to survive. The protagonist is a man of logic, experiencing his first winter in the Yukon; he does not have any practical experience in the rough terrain of that area, and so he is operating by his own deductive reasoning, and not through memory. The man is incredibly stubborn; he refuses the old man's advice to not go alone throughout the Klondike, as he feels he can make it on his own. The man is also irresponsible, risking the fire that he creates several times for the sake of small details or his own quirks. The first time, he shortsightedly pulls at branches and leaves in order to keep a fire going under a pine tree, but that brings snow down upon it. Next, he risks all of his matches to create the fire, but then picks at a piece of moss and puts out the fire. All of these actions are borne of desperation, and eventually lead to his untimely demise. With this main character, London explores the relationship between man and nature – the omniscient narrator in the work allows us to understand the mistakes the man makes (such as going out in the cold in the first place), as well as see the consequences of these mistakes. Here, nature is shown to be a cold, unfeeling creature, as it gives him no quarter for his errors – every mistake he makes sets him back further and lessens his chances for survival. What is perhaps most significant is the man’s inability to fully recognize the danger he is in; it is not until his fire is extinguished that he starts to truly become worried: "It was as though he had just heard his own sentence of death” (London, 1902). The man is representative of London’s treatment of human hubris; he believes he can easily navigate nature, but the short story and the storm itself prove him quite wrong. The dog, on the other hand, was a creature of instinct, as he simply relied on what he felt to be true about surviving in the Yukon. Here, the man’s wolf dog is the other half of the equation; he is a "big native husky, the proper wolf dog, gray-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother the wild wolf" (London, 1902). The dog itself is almost a spiritual creature, as it is much more in tune with nature, and its successes highlight the man’s failures. The dog is patient and loyal, always sticking with the man no matter what foolish decisions he makes. The dog's own preparedness for the environment makes it much more likely to survive; it has a wonderful sense of smell, and can naturally stand colder weather much better than the man can. As loyal as the dog is, it knows exactly when to give up; right when it knows the man is going to die, it heads "in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food-providers and fire-providers" (London, 1902). The dog is part of nature still, and as such it is just as indifferent to the man as the elements are. All through the story, the dog seems to know instinctually what it needs to do to survive, as it will "merely obey the mysterious prompting that [arises] from the deep crypts of its being" (London, 1902). The implication given by London is that the man lacks the preternatural instincts for survival that the wild dog has, as man has domesticated himself with his focus on civilization and escaping the necessities of survival. To that end, the dog is much more well-equipped to survive in the wilderness than man. Nature, as a force, is almost the third character in this story; the man and the dog attempt to defeat it, both using different methods. It does not intend to maliciously destroy the man and the dog; but its benign hostility is something that needs to be addressed. At every turn, nature seeks to disempower the man and make him responsible for his mistakes. By being so relentless, London shows the reader that nature does not have the power of sympathy, and is infinitely more powerful than man is. The power of nature is clearly beyond the two characters; they will certainly not make the environment warmer. All they can do is alter their reactions to nature, which the man refuses to do. This is the true lesson; nature is an immovable object, and one can either adapt to survive (as the dog does), avoid the situation altogether (as the old man implores the traveler to do), or die foolilshly (as the man himself eventually does). In conclusion, "To Build a Fire" is a tale of the battle between logic and instinct. Man does battle with nature here and loses, mostly due to his own stubbornness and pride – the main character does not pay enough credence to nature’s command of his surroundings, which leads to his death. The man, reasoning the usefulness of a fire, or even killing the dog to keep warm, still makes stubborn mistakes when these actions do not work out. The dog, on the other hand, simply knows more about nature in its veins than the man does, leaving it with the ability to survive. Nature tests both characters to see how they will attempt to survive, and the dog wins out through its use of instinct. The dog, being a much more primal creature and more in tune with nature, manages to survive while the inexperienced man freezes to death. Jack London, in his short story, seeks to illustrate the lack of control and power we have over nature, and the mistake in thinking we have it.

Works Cited

Gair, Christopher. Complicity and resistance in Jack London's novels: From naturalism to nature. Vol. 22. Edwin Mellen Press, 1997. Hendricks, King. "Jack London: Master Craftsman of the Short Story." 1966. London, Jack. “To Build a Fire.” 1902.

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88 To Build a Fire Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

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  • “To Build a Fire” a Story by Jack London Another of the details that support the postulation that the main idea of the story is that assumptions can kill is the inability of the main character to recognize his limitations.
  • “To Build a Fire” and “White Snow” by Jack London In order to analyze how patterns in writing occurs, I take the example of Jack London and the following paragraph will analyze the two short stories written by the author, ‘To Build a Fire’ and […]
  • “Open Boat” and “To Build A Fire” Comparison Similar to the theme of natural forces, in ‘The Open Boat,’ Crane describes the plight of four men who have been shipwrecked and are isolated on the ocean in a tiny dinghy.
  • “To Build a Fire” by Jack London The protagonist of the story is the man who “was a newcomer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter” and he is the prime tool at the hands of the writer […]
  • “A Blizzard Under Blue Sky” by P. Houston and “To Build a Fire” by J. London The nature is one of the greatest mysteries of the world; the value assumptions about the place of individuals in nature and their relationship to their canine companions is the issue discussed in two nice […]
  • Instability of Characters in London’s To Build a Fire and Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart Therefore, the only obsession that the narrator has with the man is his strange eye, but his inability to control his feelings drives him to commit the heinous act and take the blame.
  • Exploring Futility in “The Chrysanthemums,” “To Build a Fire,” and “The League of Old Men” The article explores the symbolism of Elisa as the main character in Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” and especially her representation of the ignored and oppressed women of her time.
  • Courting Futility in “To Build a Fire,” “The League of the Old Men,” and “The Chrysanthemums” London’s “To Build a Fire” quite likely the most famous of the author’s short stories tracks the trail of a lone wanderer in the Yukon Territory at the turn of the 20th century.
  • “To Build a Fire” by Jack London: Man and Nature By describing the protagonist’s challenges and his death at the end of the story, the writer emphasizes the power of nature and its indifference towards an individual’s life.
  • Nature and Man in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London In conclusion, it should be noted that the theme of the struggle between man and nature is a wonderful aesthetic approach.
  • Man’s Doom: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London The man’s fallacy of not appreciating the realities again becomes evident in the fact that he decides to build the fire “under the spruce tree,” instead of building it “in the open”..
  • “To Build a Fire” Short Story by Jack London Although the story is built on the understanding that the man is heading to his camp, the way that the events continue to repeat themselves suggests that the man is really going nowhere because he […]
  • Man-Animal Conflict: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London Out of a variety of the elements depicted in the story, the greatest impression is made by the conflict between the man and his wolf dog.
  • ‘The Open Boat’ and ‘To Build a Fire’ In fact, the hard language in the narration and the twists and turns of the story make the man seem like a sideshow.
  • Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” The dog that accompanies the man is also indifferent to the man even though it seems to be have more aware of the danger posed by travelling in that kind of weather than the man […]
  • Naturalism in Jack London’s To Build a Fire and The Call of the Wild The validity of such an idea can be well explored in regards to the literary legacy of one of America’s greatest writers Jack London, as the extreme naturalism of many of his short stories and […]
  • A Struggle With Nature in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • The Role of Setting in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Character That Display the Theme of Nature Versus Nurture in “To Build a Fire” and “White Fang” by Jack London
  • Intellect vs. Instinct in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Overconfidence and Arrogance in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Comparing the Two Versions of “To Build a Fire”
  • An Analysis of the Setting and Theme in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • The Awakening Journey in “Young Goodman Brown” and “To Build a Fire”
  • The Man’s Portrait in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • The Theme of Perseverance in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • “To Build a Fire” as a Representation of Authors Attitude to Klondike Gold Rush
  • Analysis of Traveller in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Human Flaws and the Importance of the Open Mind in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Significance of Words “Dying” and “Death” in “To Build a Fire”
  • The Elements of Naturalism in the Short Story “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • The Three Principle Themes in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Nature in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • The Relationship Between Humankind and Nature Portrayed in London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • The Harsh Reality of Life in “To Build a Fire,” “Genesis of the Tenements,” and “Men in the Storm”
  • Choices and Responsibility in London’s “To Build a Fire” and Crane’s “The Open Boat”
  • Comparison and Contrast of “To Build a Fire” and “The Open Boat”
  • The Notion of Realizm in “The White Heron” and “To Build a Fire”
  • The Definition of Nature in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Realism in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and Stephen Crane’s “A Mystery of Heroism”
  • The Fight of Survival in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • “To Build a Fire”: An Environmentalist Interpretation
  • The Disregard and Discredit of Women’s Intelligence as a Result of Perception in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Biographical Criticism in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Man’s Struggles in the Domination of Nature in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Fighting Nature: Animalistic Instinct in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Comparison of Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” and London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Life Theme in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Character Analysis of the Main Character in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • Evident Social Darwinism and Determinism in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • A Symbolic Interpretation of “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • The Importance of the Dog to Understand the Theme in “To Build a Fire”
  • The Theme of Existentialism in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London and in the Film “Up in the Air”
  • Chain Smoking: Causal Links in “To Build a Fire”
  • Stability of Characters in “To Build a Fire” and “The Tell Tale Heart”
  • An Analysis of the Winter Wonderland in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Foreshadowing in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • How Does “To Build a Fire” Reflect Key Naturalist Beliefs?
  • What Was the Temperature in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is a Chechaquo in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What External and Internal Forces Must the Man Struggle Against in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Happened to the Matches in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Does the Man’s Failure in “To Build a Fire” Symbolize?
  • What Is the Irony in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Was the Man’s Biggest Mistake in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Do the Man and Dog Represent in “To Build a Fire”?
  • Why Does the Man Die in “To Build a Fire”?
  • Why Did Not London Give the Man a Name in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Happened to the Man at the End of the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Motivates the Dog in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the Goal of the Author in Writing the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Does the Snow Symbolize in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the Foreshadowing in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the External Conflict in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the Relationship Between Man and Nature in the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Does the Boys Symbolize in “To Build a Fire”?
  • How Many Attempts Did the Man Make in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the Climax in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Was Unusual About the Man’s Journey in “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the Man’s Fatal Flaw in “To Build a Fire”?
  • Where Was the Man Going in the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Does the Man Finally Learn From His Experience in “To Build a Fire”?
  • How Is the Conflict Resolved in “To Build a Fire”?
  • Who or What Is the Antagonist in the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • What Is the Plot of the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • Why Is the Man Out in the Cold “To Build a Fire”?
  • Who Is the Main Character in the Story “To Build a Fire”?
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2024, March 2). 88 To Build a Fire Essay Topic Ideas & Examples. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/to-build-a-fire-essay-examples/

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good thesis statement for to build a fire

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

good thesis statement for to build a fire

What’s Covered:

What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.

When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.

You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus. 

Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.

Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point. 

The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.

Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.

Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing

When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:

  • Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
  • Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
  • Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.

Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make

Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:

  • What impact did reality TV have on American society?
  • How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
  • Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?

If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that. 

If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:

“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”

Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point

Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:

“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”

Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves. 

Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing

Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.

When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.

good thesis statement for to build a fire

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COMMENTS

  1. To Build A Fire Summary & Analysis

    The dog is surprised that the man sits in the snow and does not make a fire. The dog cries out, longing for a fire. It expects the man to curse, but there is only silence. Later, the dog moves near to the man, but it smells death. It waits longer, howling, while the stars shine in the sky.

  2. To Build a Fire, Jack London

    SOURCE: "The Theme of Jack London's 'To Build a Fire,'" in American Book Collector, Vol. 17, No. 3, November, 1966, pp. 15-18. [In the following essay, Peterson discusses the motif of ...

  3. "To Build a Fire" by Jack London: Analysis

    In "To Build a Fire," Jack London subverts traditional heroic archetypes, instead presenting a character whose flaws and ultimate failure highlight human vulnerability against the overwhelming power of nature. Tips: Choose a question that interests you: The best thesis statements come from genuine curiosity.

  4. Analysis, Synopsis, and Themes of "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

    The title refers to the first crisis in the story. It appears in the text as a part of this statement, "A man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire—that is, if his feet are wet." (19) The stakes are high at this point because the man only has one chance to build a fire if he is to avoid losing any of his body to the cold.

  5. "To Build a Fire" by Jack London: Literary Analysis Essay

    In the story "To Build A Fire," Jack London presents a bitter conflict between man and nature in the harsh Yukon Trail environment. The author's choice to use nature as the antagonist portrays an understanding of a force working against the main character, the man, as he struggles to endure in the cold. By giving nature several aspects of ...

  6. To Build a Fire Essays and Criticism

    In ''To Build a Fire'' London has employed a controlled artistry to present the theme that was struggling to life in ''In a Far Country.''. Now that London's everyman has become ...

  7. "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

    Introduction. Jack London's "To Build a Fire" has been greatly considered to be the foremost example of the naturalist movement and the conflict between man and nature. The protagonist of the story is the man who "was a newcomer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter" and he is the prime tool at the hands of the ...

  8. To Build a Fire by Jack London

    Jack London was a prolific author known for his adventure stories set in the wilderness. One of his most famous works is the short story "To Build a Fire," first published in 1908. The story follows an unnamed protagonist as he attempts to survive in the harsh Yukon wilderness, where he faces the unforgiving cold and other natural obstacles. "To Build a Fire" has been widely studied and ...

  9. "To Build a Fire" a Story by Jack London

    Introduction. "To Build A Fire" (August 1908), written by Jack London, details the story of a man who foolishly underestimated the environment that he found himself in which resulted in his death. The short story describes the actions the actions the man took to meet up with his associates and how they contributed to his misfortune.

  10. To Build A Fire By Jack London English Literature Essay

    In Jack London's "To Build a Fire," he reveals how a man goes through a harsh winter in the forest facing multiple obstacles along the way. He has to depend on what he thinks he should do when problems arise instead of thinking intuitively and beyond the obvious. Before the unnamed man left on his expedition he was warned by an old timer ...

  11. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  12. English 175

    Woolstenhulme 1 Taylor Woolstenhulme English 175 16 February 2017 To Build a Fire Outline I. Introduction A. Thesis Statement Jack London uses the deadly situation of an unnamed protagonist and dog trekking across the Yukon Trail in negative 75 degree weather and the treacherous setting in To Build a Fire to convey moral and Biblical teachings, such as pride and friendship.

  13. Essays on To Build a Fire

    A To Build a Fire literary analysis essay aims to examine the literary elements used in Jack London's short story, such as plot, theme, setting, characterization, and symbolism. ... Develop a thesis statement: Craft a clear and concise thesis statement that summarizes the main idea of the essay and the argument you will be making.

  14. Research Guides: To Build A Fire: Critical Articles

    Articles. Focuses on the critical assessment of the book 'To Build a Fire' as masterpiece of short fiction in London. Shows how the story both supports and challenges earlier reading of the work. "'Keeping His Head': Repetition and Responsibility in London's 'To Build a Fire.'. In "To Build a Fire,' Jack London uses language and repetition to ...

  15. To Build A Fire Essays

    Published: 02/09/2020. Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" tells the tale of a man and his dog, who attempt to survive in the Yukon. The harsh weather soon leaves them stranded, leaving them to take different methods to keep themselves alive. The attempt to build a fire takes up the majority of the story, as the man attempts to keep ...

  16. 88 To Build a Fire Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    The Three Principle Themes in Jack London's "To Build a Fire". Nature in Jack London's "To Build a Fire". The Relationship Between Humankind and Nature Portrayed in London's "To Build a Fire". The Harsh Reality of Life in "To Build a Fire," "Genesis of the Tenements," and "Men in the Storm".

  17. How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

    Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing. Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and ...

  18. Thesis Statement on to build a fire

    Category: / Literature / English. Length: 2 pages (546 words) Significance of Words Dying and Death in "To Build a Fire" Dying and Death in "To Build a Fire" The significance of the words "dying and death" in Jack London's 1910 novel, "To Build a Fire" continuously expresses the man's dwindling warmth and bad luck in his journey along the Yukon ...