Isolated by an environment of frigid weather and doom, the author shows us how the main character of the story is completely unaware of his surroundings. Therefore, it does not attempt to help the man or express its misgivings about leaving the fire behind other than for its own survival. He lacks endurance for long-distance running. The cold does not faze the man, a newcomer to the Yukon, since he rarely translates hard facts, such as the extreme cold, into more significant ideas, such as man's frailty and mortality. He manages to calm his fears and take another stab at building a fire, but when that attempt fails, we know this is going nowhere good, and it's going fast.
However, the man never took the precautions in his mind to even begin to think of how to cope with the deadly situation. But the temperature did not matter. A Whole Lotta Snow, and Super Chilly You could definitely argue that along with our main man, the setting is the most important thing in this story. The word existentialist, as well as the subject of existentialism itself, evades definition. The gloominess of the setting instills feelings in the man and the dog, of a constant battle with this world of depression they are in.
Point out to students that limited third-person narration usually focuses on the thoughts of a single character in the story. London provides us with subconscious hints in his writing, that lead his readers to believe that the man will suffer a tragedy in the end of the story. For the sake of brevity, perhaps a short, simple definition would be best; according to the American Heritage Dictionary 3rd ed. The man congratulates himself on proving the old man wrong. He strode up and down, stamping his feet and threshing his arms, until reassured by the returning warmth. He leaps up and stamps his feet until the feeling returns. He wants to make sure the reader clearly understood the setting and the importance of its role in this story.
Plot and characterization are brief, and the theme is simple. When the man stops to build a fire and eat his lunch, he chuckles that's right, chuckles when his fingers go numb. The use of the third-person point of view allows the reader to see the man as London sees him -- as a foolish man who deserves whatever consequences nature throws at him. But, he reflects, a little frost is, at most, painful, never dangerous. His selfishness and ignorance keeps him in an array of danger and disaster. The man is not sentimental about the dog.
One major point of naturalism not discussed yet is determinism. This is the first winter the man has been up in the Yukon so he doesn't really have an appreciation for how cold and dangerous it is. He pictures them on the trail and himself with them. The dog falls through the ice, but quickly crawls out on the other side. But it also shows his failure of imagination, his failure to be interested in and see the broader possibilities and risks of the world around him.
Though he successfully starts one fire, he falls into water, gets wet and struggles starting another fire. For the next half hour, the man does not observe any signs of water under the snow. He retrieves his pack of matches, but his fingers are re-freezing and he drops the pack in the snow. The snow and ice hide the danger of the warm springs beneath. He cannot pick up the pack.
Allowing the environment to kill the man indicates that he is weak both mentally and biologically, while on the other hand the dog is stronger by surviving the same harsh environment. Please by the claims made and adding. The feeling in his toes when he first sat down has gone. It's really, really, cold…like 75 degrees below 0. He runs only one hundred feet before he falls. The old man at Sulpur Creek had told him that no man should travel alone if it was colder than fifty degrees below zero. He passes over more terrain to the frozen bed of a stream, ten miles from his destination, where he plans to eat lunch.
For the first time, the man is imagining possible outcomes of his situation. The story takes place in the Yukon during one of the long night. The dog is sitting across from the man and the sight of the dog inspires an idea. The remoteness of the Yukon wilderness, as well as the absence of a human travel companion for the man, serve to illustrate the existentialist idea that man is alone in the universe. After trying and failing to build a fire, he slips into unconsciousness and dies of. He assumes from this that the temperature is colder than fifty degrees below zero. By not naming the character, London has placed him at an even greater distance from the reader within his deadly setting, thus isolating him all the more in a bleak and hostile universe.