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Symbols of a Larger Representation
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The short stories Greasy Lake and To Build a Fire have many symbols of a larger representation. Both texts have a dark and a gloomy sense. The short stories relate in that the characters experience a moment of divine revelation in the events preceding their predicaments. The theme of epiphany connects the two narratives. Throughout the narratives, references are made to how unfriendly and mysterious the atmosphere is for the main characters.
Arrogance and mistakes characterize the actions of the protagonists in both narratives. In the short story To Build a Fire, the protagonist should never have found himself in the situation he is in while in the wilderness. Experienced woodsmen had warned him of the dangers of travelling alone but he had broken away from the group, hence his predicament. In Greasy Lake, the characters come of age due to the night’s events. This is despite the fact that at the beginning of the narrative they want to be roguish.
Greasy lake portrays the transition of boys to manhood by acting rowdy so as to be accepted in the society. The characters Digby and Jeff wore gold earrings and dropped out of school respectively. Their rebellion leads them to making mistakes and irresponsible behaviors of smoking pot and drinking gin while driving. The greasy character acts as the bigger bad boys while the main characters are the wannabes trying to fit in. Theme of self desires and immorality are effectively portrayed by them trying to rape the female companion of the greasy character.
In to build a fire the narrator shows determination by trying to achieve his self desires by trying to oppose Mother Nature and eventually makes a mistake by excessively exposing himself to the cold temperatures and suffers frost bites. The husky dog instinct kicks in as the teperature continued to drop by hiding in snow while the narrators uses his intelligence by fighting of cold by rubbing his hands together and uses matches to build fires so as to keep himself warm.
The author in Greasy Lake uses characters such as Digby and Jeff to portray their self deceptions prior to their predicaments in the woods. Digby wore a gold star in his right ear and Jeff wanted to quit school. This shows their desires to be bad. Bruce Springsteen establishes the theme of ruthlessness, self desires and irresponsible behavior among the three characters which displays the buildup of fire. This is shown in an incidence where gin had clouded the characters judgment and led them to almost kill the greasy character and rape the young woman.
Jack London portrays this theme using a character who disapproves of other peoples thought on manhood showing that, a man is one who stands up for what he believes in, e.g. the narrator ignores the advice given to him by the old timer at sulphur creek and travels alone in the cold and endangering himself by getting his feet wet and freezes up. Unable to walk he lies down and sleeps waiting to die.
Digby and Jeff in Greasy Lake are the wild hogs while the protagonist is just but a part of the fire and is constantly worried of his actions and his mother, whose car was wrecked by the greasy character. He is aware of the dangers that face him but is unable to act on it due to the company he was involved with, Digby and Jeff. He is the factor capable of putting out the fire, in this case dangers that they put themselves in.
The main character In to build a fire is confident and self driven to travel abandoning his friends at the camps.. He managed to keep off the traps of Mother Nature but was unable to evade the trap of ignorance and self desires he bestowed up on himself. The husky dog was his sign of redemption as it sat around when it was cold but he could not yield to the needs of the dog and he thrust himself into danger by travelling alone under temperatures below 50 degrees Klondike.
The short story on Greasy Lake is comparative to To build a fire in that Bruce Springsteen uses two characters who are irresponsible in their behaviors, self driven and would put themselves in harm’s way. Their ignorance got them in conflicting situation with the greasy character almost killing him. In build a fire, Jack London uses two characters who offer advice to a traveler in Yukon on the impending dangers of travelling alone in the cold temperatures but ignores it. The character is unwary of their advice and ends up dying in the cold.
Bruce Springsteen uses a better approach to the theme showing how the characters intentionally build up their own fire as the result of their own consequences. The narrators’ mothers’ car got destroyed by the greasy character. The narrator in to build a fire ignored advice given to him, and as he travelled further he got himself in danger. Using fire as his source of survival acted as a twin as his ignorance got him in the danger he was. Both characters in Greasy Lake and To build a fire are aware that their actions placed them in danger.
The theme of self desires and ignorance is portrayed by the characters making mistakes and regretting afterwards. Their egoistic nature was also a contributing factor to their down fall. Bruce Springsteen expression of the characters was impressive portraying their self deception while transitioning into man hood by acting rowdy and irresponsibly. Self deception is a major theme in both stories.
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