A Comparison of the Similarities and Differences Between Jack London’s Call of the Wild and To Build a Fire

Jack London, a young writer of the early 20th century, found great success in his book Call of the Wild. Buck’s story is written with amazing detail and a meaningful message. It is very similar to London’s short story To Build a Fire, but they have many differences as well. To Build a Fire is the story of a man fighting to survive in the winter wilderness of the Canadian Yukon. Although these two stories are very different, they have similarities as well. The point of view changes between these two books. Throughout Call of the Wild, we follow Buck from the warm Santa Clara Valley of California to the frozen wasteland of the Canadian Yukon. “The onlookers laughed uproariously, and he felt ashamed, he knew not why, for this was his first snow.” Call of the Wild, we hear and see and feel as he does: the rough beatings, the midnight calls to the moon, the passing cities, seeing everything from his point of view. To Build a Fire, however, is the story of a man, alone in the wilderness. We hear his thoughts and feel his pain, “After a time he was aware of the first far-away signals of sensation is his beaten fingers but which the man hailed with satisfaction.”  The two stories have very different points of view, making them individual. Besides the difference in point of view, there are many other things that set these stories apart. Even though both stories deal with perseverance, the characters must persevere through different things. “It was no light running now, nor record time, but heavy toil each day, with a heavy load behind;” Buck had to work hard every day to survive because, if he didn’t, his owner would beat him to death.

That is one form of perseverance. Another is shown in To Build a Fire: “He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger. He knew there must be no failure. When it is seventy-five below zero, a man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire.” The man had to keep going and build the fire right if he wanted to survive. He refused to give up and let death have its way. Although the problems they faced were different, they are still similar characters with similar stories. Both characters were fairly new to the land of the frozen Canadian Yukon. Although arriving there differently, Buck’s and the man’s stories took place in the same general area. “The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. He was a new-comer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter.” The man in this story was new to the land of the Yukon and had never experienced winter here. Buck had also never been this far north and had never experienced snow before this. “He knew not why, for it was his first snow. The Canadian Government would be no loser, nor would its dispatches travel slower.” The place setting for these two stories was the same, but that’s not all that they have in common. Buck and the Man were very similar in character, besides being different species. Each one was fairly observant of their surroundings and of danger. “There was imperative need to be constantly alert; for these dogs and men were not town dogs and men.” Buck was constantly alert due to the untrusted dogs and men. The man in To Build a Fire was also very alert and observant of his surroundings. “He was quick and alert in all things of life,” The man was always aware of the things going on in and around his life. In conclusion, the main characters of both stories are very alert, relating them to each other. Jack London’s best-selling book Call of the Wild and short story To Build a Fire are similar in story line, but they are also very individualized. Many times while reading To Build a Fire, I thought of Buck and his adventures from Call of the Wild. Jack London chose similar settings and happenings while writing these stories. While they have their differences, Jack London’s stories Call of the Wild and To Build a Fire have the same general message.

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