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AMERICAN STORIES - To Build a Fire by Jack London

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To Build a Fire by Jack London
To Build a Fire by Jack London

Our story today is called "To Build a Fire." It was written by Jack London. Here is Harry Monroe with the story.

The man walked down the trail on a cold, gray day. Pure white snow and ice covered the Earth for as far as he could see. This was his first winter in Alaska. He was wearing heavy clothes and fur boots. But he still felt cold and uncomfortable.

The man was on his way to a camp near Henderson Creek. His friends were already there. He expected to reach Henderson Creek by six o'clock that evening. It would be dark by then. His friends would have a fire and hot food ready for him.

A dog walked behind the man. It was a big gray animal, half dog and half wolf. The dog did not like the extreme cold. It knew the weather was too cold to travel.

The man continued to walk down the trail. He came to a frozen stream called Indian Creek. He began to walk on the snow-covered ice. It was a trail that would lead him straight to Henderson Creek and his friends.

As he walked, he looked carefully at the ice in front of him. Once, he stopped suddenly, and then walked around a part of the frozen stream. He saw that an underground spring flowed under the ice at that spot. It made the ice thin. If he stepped there, he might break through the ice into a pool of water. To get his boots wet in such cold weather might kill him. His feet would turn to ice quickly. He could freeze to death.

At about twelve o'clock, the man decided to stop to eat his lunch. He took off the glove on his right hand. He opened his jacket and shirt, and pulled out his bread and meat. This took less than twenty seconds. Yet, his fingers began to freeze.

He hit his hand against his leg several times until he felt a sharp pain. Then he quickly put his glove on his hand. He made a fire, beginning with small pieces of wood and adding larger ones. He sat on a snow-covered log and ate his lunch. He enjoyed the warm fire for a few minutes. Then he stood up and started walking on the frozen stream again.

A half hour later, it happened. At a place where the snow seemed very solid, the ice broke. The man's feet sank into the water. It was not deep, but his legs got wet to the knees. The man was angry. The accident would delay his arrival at the camp. He would have to build a fire now to dry his clothes and boots.

He walked over to some small trees. They were covered with snow. In their branches were pieces of dry grass and wood left by flood waters earlier in the year. He put several large pieces of wood on the snow, under one of the trees. On top of the wood, he put some grass and dry branches. He pulled off his gloves, took out his matches, and lighted the fire. He fed the young flame with more wood. As the fire grew stronger, he gave it larger pieces of wood.

He worked slowly and carefully. At sixty degrees below zero, a man with wet feet must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire. While he was walking, his blood had kept all parts of his body warm. Now that he had stopped, cold was forcing his blood to withdraw deeper into his body. His wet feet had frozen. He could not feel his fingers. His nose was frozen, too. The skin all over his body felt cold.

Now, however, his fire was beginning to burn more strongly. He was safe. He sat under the tree and thought of the old men in Fairbanks. The old men had told him that no man should travel alone in the Yukon when the temperature is sixty degrees below zero. Yet here he was. He had had an accident. He was alone. And he had saved himself. He had built a fire.

Those old men were weak, he thought. A real man could travel alone. If a man stayed calm, he would be all right. The man's boots were covered with ice. The strings on his boots were as hard as steel. He would have to cut them with his knife.

He leaned back against the tree to take out his knife. Suddenly, without warning, a heavy mass of snow dropped down. His movement had shaken the young tree only a tiny bit. But it was enough to cause the branches of the tree to drop their heavy load. The man was shocked. He sat and looked at the place where the fire had been.

The old men had been right, he thought. If he had another man with him, he would not be in any danger now. The other man could build the fire. Well, it was up to him to build the fire again. This time, he must not fail.

The man collected more wood. He reached into his pocket for the matches. But his fingers were frozen. He could not hold them. He began to hit his hands with all his force against his legs.

After a while, feeling came back to his fingers. The man reached again into his pocket for the matches. But the tremendous cold quickly drove the life out of his fingers. All the matches fell onto the snow. He tried to pick one up, but failed.

The man pulled on his glove and again beat his hand against his leg. Then he took the gloves off both hands and picked up all the matches. He gathered them together. Holding them with both hands, he scratched the matches along his leg. They immediately caught fire.

He held the blazing matches to a piece of wood. After a while, he became aware that he could smell his hands burning. Then he began to feel the pain. He opened his hands, and the blazing matches fell on to the snow. The flame went out in a puff of gray smoke.

The man looked up. The dog was still watching him. The man got an idea. He would kill the dog and bury his hands inside its warm body. When the feeling came back to his fingers, he could build another fire. He called to the dog. The dog heard danger in the man's voice. It backed away.

The man called again. This time the dog came closer. The man reached for his knife. But he had forgotten that he could not bend his fingers. He could not kill the dog, because he could not hold his knife.

The fear of death came over the man. He jumped up and began to run. The running began to make him feel better. Maybe running would make his feet warm. If he ran far enough, he would reach his friends at Henderson Creek. They would take care of him.

It felt strange to run and not feel his feet when they hit the ground. He fell several times. He decided to rest a while. As he lay in the snow, he noticed that he was not shaking. He could not feel his nose or fingers or feet. Yet, he was feeling quite warm and comfortable. He realized he was going to die.

Well, he decided, he might as well take it like a man. There were worse ways to die.

The man closed his eyes and floated into the most comfortable sleep he had ever known.

The dog sat facing him, waiting. Finally, the dog moved closer to the man and caught the smell of death. The animal threw back its head. It let out a long, soft cry to the cold stars in the black sky.

And then it tuned and ran toward Henderson Creek…where it knew there was food and a fire.

You have just heard the AMERICAN STORY called "To Build a Fire." It was written by Jack London and adapted by Dona de Sanctis. Your storyteller was Harry Monroe.

______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

creek - n. a place where a small amount of water flows

glove - n. a covering for the hand that has separate parts for each finger

withdraw - v. to take something back, away or out

tremendous - adj. very large or great

blazing - adj. very hot, fast, or powerful

aware - adj. feeling, experiencing, or noticing something

网友的学习评论(14条):
作者:tom
Success belongs to the persevering! Never give up because you never know what will happen next.
作者:YEZI
The story is fantastic!
作者:xiaofenfen
This tragic story vividly showed the greatness and strength of human beings.In order to achieve a goal in life, we should struggle to the life with all the hardships and dangers. The protagonist of this novel in the face of numerous hardships and dangers, wanted to give up his life, but he did not wish to die, he chose to fight. Therefore, when we are faced with difficulties, we can not sit still; only resistance, in order to win! Let us always love the great life.
作者:xiaofenfen
It's a typical naturalistic essay.From it,we can see that the man has tried many times to make himself live.However,it's very difficult to survive in such a bad situation.There is a wisdom that we can get from the essay .No matter how bad the situation is,we should never give up and try our best to make a better result.Although we might die,we should struggle for life instead of waiting for death.
作者:xiaofenfen
It's a typical naturalistic essay.From it,we can see that the man has tried many times to make himself live.However,it's very difficult to survive in such a bad situation.There is a wisdom that we can get from the essay .No matter how bad the situation is,we should never give up and try our best to make a better result.Although we might die,we should struggle for life instead of waiting for death. 160700212
作者:xiaofenfen
The story roughly tells us a man who wanted to a camp where there were a fire and hot food ready for him."To build a fire" is the clue of the story.And it also shows us a man from hope to despair,at last to death. From the text,an old men told that he should not travel alone, but he refused.I notice when the man failed to build a fire,he wanted to kill the dog . Because of the frozen fingers,he failed.Our life swarms with hardship,we should always have a hopeful heart and be kind to everyone.
作者:xiaofenfen
There is no denying that it's an extremely attractive story,which shows unyielding and resistent spirts of human.When the hero was confronted with cold dilemma again and again,he still struggled to warm himself through different channels.But in that case,even survival became an extravagant hope.So the man's death is reasonable.The hero's experience is worth thinking.Never discard the faith,and you may creat unexpected miracles.After all,people should live for hope and dream.160300503
作者:xiaofenfen
The story roughly tells us a man who wanted to a camp where there was hot food ready for him."To build a fire" is the clue of the story.And it also shows us a man from hope to despair,at last to death. From the text,an old men told that he should not travel alone, but he refused.I notice when the man failed to build a fire,he wanted to kill the dog . Because of the frozen fingers,he failed.Our life swarms with hardship,we should always have a hopeful heart and be kind to everyone.160700207
作者:xiaofenfen
It is universally acknowledged that we should on no account be discouraged by difficulties.What the story is trying to convey is that we must go all out to meet the challenges of life no matter what the results,just like the man who was struggling to survive at sixty degrees below zero.There is no denying that he would die in such a miserable situation,but at least he did not give up.It pays to give yourself a chance to survive,because on no account can we ignore the value of our life! 160300615
作者:xiaofenfen
The man want to visit his friends.But he failed and died.It's a typical naturalistic essay.From it,we can see that the man has tried many times to make himself live.However,it's very difficult to survive by such a bad situation.There is a wisdom that we can get from the essay .No matter how bad the situation is,we should never give up and try our best to make a better result.Although we might die,we should struggle for life instead of waiting for death. 160700212
作者:xiaofenfen
When we have to face the difficulties.What should we do is never to give up like the hero in the story.Although he is died in the end,his spirit should be remembered by everyone.We will encounter various challenges in life. If we always escape from problems,there is no success can be seen.160700117
作者:xiaofenfen
Our life are more kind than the hero in the story.He knew that he mightdied in that bad situation,but he still tried his best to chase the hope of life.So what reasons we still have to give up when we have difficulties.160700117
作者:xiaofenfen
It's a sad story.The man's death could not happened,but he lose his awareness when he built fire to warm himself.When we stay in a dangerous situation, we will try our best to avoid mistakes.But when we feel comfortable,we lose our feelings of danger and at that time danger come to us.We shouldn't lose our awareness whether we stay in comfortable situations.160120423
作者:xiaofenfen
From this article we can see that the man is very brave and clever. But if he had followed the advice of the old man, the tragedy would not have happened. I think the old people's words are sometimes very useful, after all, they may have experienced.I also found out that the man wanted to kill the dog after all kinds of failures. But the dog didn't hurt him when he didn't have the ability to act. After the man died, the dog went to look for the man's friends.How loyal a dog is to a man
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