Themes Themes and Colors Key LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in To Build a Fire, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. He is a solitary hiker. There is no sun in the clear sky, as this northern part of Canada has not seen daylight in several days at this time of year. The whiteness of the land, covered in ice and snow, is broken only by the trail which leads miles south and 1, north all the way to the Bering Sea.
This literary movement is seen as an outgrowth of Realism with the addition of pessimistic determinism and was influenced by Social Darwinism cf. In the following pages the typical characteristics of stories written during the literary movement naturalism will be explained. Authors argue that it is an outgrowth of realism, because according to George J.
In addition, naturalism can also be indicated as a reaction to different scientific developments which influenced the view of the world in the late 19th century. Since naturalist authors attempt to determine scientifically the underlying forces influencing the actions of subjects, characters of naturalist stories can be studied by the relationship to their surroundings.
Trough this objective study of human beings, naturalistic writers believe that the laws behind the forces that govern human lives have to be studied and understood and as a consequence they use scientific methods to write their novels.
But naturalism is not only limited to materialistic determinism. A very concise definition of naturalism by Eric Sundquist can be found in the introduction of American Realism: Naturalist fiction also aspires to a sociological objectivity, offering detailed and fully researched investigations into unexplored corners of modern society.
This scientifically position of Zola influenced many American naturalists heavily. To this Donald Pizer notes in his book Twentieth- century American literary naturalism: The American naturalism can be defined as a reaction to the realist fiction of the s and s, which was limited to middle-class topics with taboos on violence and sexuality.
Furthermore, they thought that realism was not able to represent the ethnic mix of the growing industrialized American cities and were skeptical about the notions of bourgeois individualism characterizing realist novels about middle-class life cf. The invention of photography during the 19th century also supported these perceptions.
Their common life consists of the dull round of daily existence in which naturalist authors discover qualities of man. Naturalists, however, discover the traits of human nature in this theme.
Furthermore, their lives are governed and controlled by the forces of heredity, instinct and passion.
Their attempt at exercising free will or choice fails because of the forces beyond their control. This determinism of the characters in naturalist novels shows the influence Social Darwinism had on the authors and helps at the same time to explain the fates of the characters to the reader.
The theory of Charles Darwin also illustrates the low standing of humans in the world and makes clear that nature does not care about them, which again shows the determinism of naturalist characters.
Besides the influence of this supposition on naturalist characters, the belief that every individual no matter how poor or socially disadvantaged he is, has the whole values of all life, including emotion and defeat can be seen as well cf.
Since the authors wanted to represent the new growing industrialized and multi- ethnic American cities with their problems, which were in their opinion not appropriate represented by realism authors, the setting in stories written during naturalism is usually urban cf.
In the following, the themes and conflicts of naturalism in the late 19th and the early 20th century will be described. Furthermore, naturalist authors often deal with the dark harshness of life as poverty, racism, prejudice, disease, prostitution and filth in their stories.
Thus writers often were criticized for being too blunt and shameless. In addition, strong emotions such as lust, greed and pleasure as well as the fight for survival, are often used topics in naturalist stories.
Furthermore, naturalist writers often draw the picture of an indifferent, deterministic universe in which the failure of attempts of human beings to exercise free will is often ironically presented and so reveals free will as an illusion.
This is a direct opposite of the Aristotelian hero, who despite being a man of worth begins to fall cf.
Additionally, another frequent topic in naturalist fiction is the problem of elusive and shifting knowledge.
Thus the yearning for knowledge and values of man in an unknown and doubtful world in himself was picked up by naturalist authors and was presented tragically as well as ironically cf.Need help with To Build A Fire in Jack London's To Build a Fire?
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Jack London is a poster boy for naturalism, and his short story, "To Build a Fire," is a good example of why. Naturalism is an extreme form of realism, with a heightened attention to nature and its effects on humans.
To Build a Fire study guide contains a biography of Jack London, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
About To Build a Fire To Build a Fire . Jack London’s short story, “To Build a Fire,” is the tragic tale of a man who decides to travel alone through the hostile environment of the Yukon in sub-freeing temperatures and falls victim to the unrelenting and unforgiving power of nature.
To build a fire is a prime example of this scenario. In the short story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, an inexperienced traveler in the Yukon travels alone with his dog, even though it is ill advised to do so.