Essay, Research Paper: Adventurism In Human Nature


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Human history is littered with example where a few individual risked life and
limbs to venture into the unknown, which then came to be discovered, thanks to
their spirit of adventurism or as some would say, fool hardy bravado. Of course,
certain names come to mind, Christopher Columbus, Captain James Cook, Lois and
Clark etc. There is another side to this tale of fame as well. Even the success
stories sometimes had a ring of failure about itself. A person might be a
pioneer in the field of discovery but the fruits of his labor are enjoyed by
those who follow him. He might in fact have served as an expendable instrument
in the road to discovery, in the big schemes of things. Little do we know about
the glaring failures of those who dared to and never lived to tell the tale of
their supposed glory. The arctic and the Northern Alaskan territory presented
similar challenges to the human spirit of the adventurism and discovery. The
element of nature, the unfamiliar terrain, the extreme weather and unforeseeable
circumstances all stacked up as worthy obstacles in the way of anyone who dared
to explore its secrets and expansiveness, and fostered and thought of overcoming
these. In the text under discussion, “To build a fire” by Jack London, the
struggle between nature and man exemplifies the difficulties in the quest for
adventurism whereby it can be said that much of what was discovered, what was
new, came about through struggle rather than co-operation. Even though the main
character foresees the big challenges lying ahead of him, he sets off to pursue
it, through a mixture of ignorance, indifference and resolve. This perception
follows the readers through out the body of the text uphill the end “(L 16,
P1745”. This shows him to be less than prudent and a tad bit indifferent.
“(L 20, P 1745)”. Continuing in the same vein, it appears that main
character is perhaps taking things lightly. Considering the journey itself,
which is presented as a significant obstacle, it does present a contrast. The
contrast is between the degree of difficulty and the lack of grasp for the
gravity of the situation which presents itself (L 7, P 1745). Perhaps, no where
is this lack of preparedness for the journey more exhibited than where he does
find himself in a hole (moment of danger) e.g. where he acknowledges this.
“(L26, P1748)”. Perhaps the most compelling evidence of this fool hard
cockiness that is bordering on madness is evident through the following. All of
the above explained, have the cumulative effect of presenting a picture of a man
might be a tough individual but not necessarily a prudent one. The journey is
wrought with peril and indeed presents itself as a significant hurdle not to be
taken lightly. There is danger of thin ice on the top of a water hole or river
covered by soft snow. In the extreme weather, getting wet is as good as dead!
“(L19, P1747)”. That he does find himself in that situation is a grim
reminder of the harsh reality. “(L24, P1747)”. The implicit implication is
ofcourse death by exposure to cold facilitated by his being wet. The grimness of
the situation is further re-iterated in the following. “(L39, P1747”. When
he does try to control the situation by building the fire again after his first
attempt ends in failure, he starts to freeze up. “L27, P1751). When his
condition deteriorates and he begins to lose sensation, it is the moment of
truth.(L18, P1753). These examples show that the dangers were not overstated and
were real as they did in the end manifest themselves to be such. Finally, the
challenge proves itself to be greater than the human resolve arrayed against it
which breaks down the human pride and makes it possible to accept the harsh
verdict of nature on its (nature’s) terms. The fire time the reader senses a
hint of acceptance or a dent in the confidence of the man is when it is said
that “(l44, P 1750). When his second attempt to build a fire also meets the
same fate as his first one, then he options begin to border on the extreme.
(L34, P 1752). We begin to see the progression of his state of panic.(L26,
P1753). This is the next step in this progression as he downgrades his options
from losing limb to losing life. The same is re-iterated by the following (L37,
P 1757). Ofcourse, when it does dawn on him that there is no reprieve, the panic
sets in. This is where he has the last burst for survival (L12, P 1754).
Finally, the struggle against the impending death seems so futile, that
acceptance of death presents itself as an attractive option – a drastic
deterioration of options. “(L29, P 1754). Thus hero has a fall from grace.
Pride comes before a fall is no longer a metaphor. The nature asserts itself on
the man who struggled for all that was worth but had to bow to the verdict of
the nature.
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