Friday, March 23, 2007

Leaped And Danced

Journal No. 24
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Jack London

From "To Build A Fire"

I. "A little longer it dealyed, howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky. Then it turned and trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food-providers and fire-providers."

II. Jack London is describing the end-scene where the dog waits to be punished and soon moves on after scenting that death is near. He moves on to the next master.

III. The dog has sensed for a while that the man has only been there to feed him and to scold him. He has not known any connection to the man and therefore does not feel a loss when the man dies. If the dog and man had been closer and had created a bond, I think that this scene would be much more sad. However, since the dog does not have ties to the man, he moves on to the next endeavor.

I think that the dog actually knows that the next camp is close by. He seems to be thinking, "Well, I'll just trot on over here and get me some good grub and some warm feet to lay on." The point of the story was to show the reader that man does not dominate all of nature and its wisdom. He simply relies on it and then discards it when he has filled his need. In this case, he ignored the dogs frequent pleas to move back to warmth and safety. He believed that the dog was just some dumb, lazy animal. He chose to ignore reasoning and paid the price for it. In the end, the dog proved to be the more intelligent creature. He knew that warmth was the only way to survive. He had instincts to bury into the snow. He knew that the camp was nearby. And yet, the man failed to "listen" to any instincts, including not only the dogs and the old man's, but his own as well. How many times do we pass our days ignoring little voices in our head that tell us how to choose from right and wrong? I know that I have regretted not listening to my instincts before. Now, I would like to believe that I might listen a little more intently the next time that I hear reasoning enter my thoughts.


Scott said...

20 points. Yes, that's the picture of Jack London at Tahoe (not the Yukon).