A man trudges through three feet of snow and ice, struggling against the subzero cold. Almost fifty years later, another man sprints through a tropical jungle, fighting for his life against an evil adversary. What could these two men possibly have in common, besides the obvious life-and-death struggles? Could these conflicts, told in two separate short stories, really relate to each other in any way? The stories "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell and "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, though distinctly different, have notable similarities.
In "The Most Dangerous Game", our protagonist, Rainsford, is stranded on a desolate island in the Caribbean, fleeing from the grisly General Zaroff. In London't story, "To Build a Fire", the man up in the Yukon faces hypothermia in the seventy-five degrees below zero weather. His objective is the same as Rainsford's: survival. Both characters are in unfamiliar situations and rely on their intellect to overcome ovewhelming foces. When facing their own antagonists, however, only Rainsford survives, for London's man is arrogant while Rainsford learns from his mistakes. For example, the man in "To Build a Fire" refuses to listen to the old timer's advice about traveling with a partner through the cold, while Rainsford ascertains that Zaroff can follow any trail, so the best way to survive would be to build traps. Even though Rainsford uses nature to build his snares, setting is far more important in London's story. The whole focus of the story encircles the man and the bitter cold setting. While "The Most Dangerous Game" could take place in an entirely different environment with very few changes to the plot, if you happen to alter the setting in "To Build a Fire", you have to alter the whole storyline! London goes into great detail describing the vast whiteness of the man's surroundings; however, he goes to excruciating means to imprint the cold in our minds. "...He spat again. And again, in the air...the spittle crackled." (London, "To Build a Fire" wink This shows us really how cold it is, for the spit turns into ice before it hits the ground.
Jack London and Richard Connell both express their writing styles in their short stories. The authors pace their stories according to speed, like in London's story the sentences are mostly conmpound, complex, and compound-complex to emphasize how slowly the man is really moving. Connell and London both use foreshadowing in their stories: Rainsford and Whitney arguing over hunted animals' feelings and the old timer warning the man to travel with a partner are two examples of foreshadowing. Connell writes in active voice and uses stron action verbs; London writes in passive voice and uses lining verbs, which, in any other case, would be bad for the story; however, it helps make "To Build a Fire" the story that it is. London also uses repetition for emphasis, while Connell rerely repeats himself, choosing instead to use vivid sensory images and literary terms such as similes and metaphors.
The main idea in both stories is instinct v. reason, for both instinct and reason are needed to survive. Animalistic feelings allow the reader to experience instinct in the stories. In "To Build a Fire" we comprehend that only the dog has instinct. On the other hand, in Connell's story we realize that when Rainsford is in panic his instinct has taken over and he has lost the ability to think clearly. Connell makes it apparent that he believes that reason is more important that instinct; London believes the opposite. To support his belief, each man creates differed scernarios using instinct and reason: racing away from a human antagonist and battling nature's worst cold snap ever. The outcome of the stories also betry the different viewpoints on instinct and reason, that is, the way surviving on reason kills one man and saves another.
Both Connell's and London's stories reflect the authors themselves. The slow, monotonous pace, the dismal scenery and expecially the outcome of the man depict London's morose view of humanity due to his deprived childhood. On the other hand, Connell's speedy pace and happy ending show a more optimistic viewpoint installed by his prosperous family when he was a young boy. Perhaps the stories these authors wrote present angles on our own lives; specifically, whether to be humble like Rainsford and triumph over our problems, or to be arrogen like the man and surcumb to hardships caused by our own mistakes.
- Title: Connell & London; Fire & Ice
- Artist: Harmonious Dischord
- Description: This is something I wrote in school (not exactly flashback) and I only got an A- on. My question is, why? It was a little long for my teacher's preferences, so that docks me down to an A instead of an A+. Please tell me what you think of my essay.
- Date: 05/27/2009
- Tags: connell london fire