One is almost overcome with the despair they must have felt was opined by the Correspondent when they had their hopes of rescue dashed at the Lighthouse. “Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life?” (Crane)
Jack London was another American author, known for his gritty portrayals of life in the frontier, especially Alaska, during the turn of the century gold rush. One such story was “To Build a Fire”, again set in the Yukon and one man’s interminable will to survive in temperatures at minus seventy-five degrees. Even the dog beside him knew by instinct that such temperatures were not survivable, for indeed by the end of the story he had succumbed to the cold and the dog had abandoned him. The whole story reverberates with the ferocity of Nature at its worst and how mammals, especially Man, are susceptible to its whims. For this story it was the cold but in Crane’s above it could have been a quick squall, since it was based near Florida. The Man’s lowest point is when after falling through the snow, he finally is able to build a fire to dry his frostbitten feet and he is jubilant that he will survive where others didn’t. Yet the snow is dislodged from the tree above the fire and extinguishes it. He then becomes so desperate that he burns his own hands with the matches in order to thaw them out. Knowing he will be maimed he is nonetheless comforted by the fact that his friends will take care of him. His hopelessness and acceptance of death is magnified to the reader when after attempting to run, in a futile attempt to thaw his body out, he thinks “Well, he was bound to freeze anyway, and he might as well take it decently” (London).
Both authors died young but lived a full life and their stories reflected their ideas on the subject of fate. True they gave the indication that things are somewhat predestined and it ...
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