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Nature In Lodon And Eastman

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Nature can be a strong, brutal, and deadly or calm and peaceful, but it never lacks power and strength. It controls all of those within it, and man will never be able to control it. This is the way that Jack London portrays nature in The Law of Life, and To Build a Fire. Nature is a force that won't be reconed with. Nature can also be seen as connected to man, and mournful or angry when wrongs are committed. This is the way that Charle's Eastman uses nature in From the Deep Woods to Civilization. Both recognize the power and strangeness that nature creates. In both Eastman's work and London's work we see the romanticism of nature, and of death. London shows it as powerful and unsympathetic while Eastman shows it as a peaceful signifier of death.

London uses nature in a more brutal and relentless sense than we see in Eastman. The characters in his stories The Law of Life, and To Build a Fire are in a battle with nature for their lives. the both take place up North in some of the coldest parts of the world, and both link the cold, frost and snow to death. Not a violent death, but a peaceful death in nature, and it seems that this is the reason that the characters in both of his stories accept it so readily.

In The Law of Life we see a reference to snow and death in the first paragraph. "...too busy to waste a thought on her broken grandfather, sitting alone in the snow..." (972 London, The law of Life) The main point is he is sitting alone in the snow. His grandaughter is busy doing the things in life that he is no longer a part of and doesn't notice him sitting there. "...Life called her, and the duites of life, not death. And he was very close to death now." (p972 London, The law of Life) The snow is a natural signifier of death for him. It is further referenced when his son cones to share his last words with him "...Even now it is snowing. / "Ay, even now it is snowing." (p.973 London, The law of Life) It is there final conversation with eachother and it seems as though this line is them both confirming what is going to happen. The tribe is going to move on, and old Koskoosh is going to be left to die because he is too old to keep up with the tribe. "...I am as a last year's leaf, clinging lightly to the stem..." (p973 London, The law of Life ) He is comparing himself to the last leaf on a tree as winter comes. In the spring they bloom, and in the winter they die and fall off the tree. Here again the cold, winter season is a signifier of death. There is even reference to other animals dying when the winter comes. "...The mosquitos vanished with the first frost..." (p974 London, The law of Life ). In the end we see it as well as he is nearing death. "...the frost bit deeper..." (p976 London, The law of Life) He is beginning to die and surrender himself to the cold. The cold that he has known all his life but never so much in the time of his death, when his body will truly

freeze and he will drift into eternal sleep.

In To Build a Fire, London uses the cold as a death symbol as well. The caracter in this story fights the cold right from the start. He is in a constant battle to keep himself warm, and in a constant battle to keep himself alive. It is tremendously cold. His spit is even freezing in the air. "...he spat speculatively. There was a sharp, explosive crackle that startled him...Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below..." (p977-978). He also has to keep his biscuits right up against him to keep them from freezing. We see his battle really start when he can't keep his cheekbones from going numb. "But rub as he would, the instant he stopped his cheek-bones went numb, and the following instant the end of his nose went numb..." (p979) When his dog falls into a trap, he takes off his glove to help it get the ice off its feet and really feels the cold. "He did not expose his finger for more than a minute, and was astonished at the swift numbness that smote them..." (p980). When he tries to eat, he can't because its too cold, and has to build a fire. There is also constant warning from the dog, who by natural instinct wants to stop and find somewhere to stay warm. As he moves on, he falls into a trap and must build another fire. It is here that the cold begins to take him. He builds the fire under a tree. The heat from the fire melts the snow on it and causes the snow to fall, extinguishing the fire. "...It was as though he had just heard his own sentence of death..." (p982) When this happened, he knew his chances for survival were slim. He tried to race the cold to start another one but failed. He begun to get so cold that he couldn't even build the fire. "...The dead fingers could neither touch nor clutch..."(p984) All hope eventually leaves when the last chance he has at fire is ruined by his body shaking from the cold. He tries to run, but can't for long. "...He was losing

his battle with the frost. It was creeping into his body from all sides. The thought drove him on but he ran no more than a hundred feet, when he staggered and pitched headlong..."(p986). He eventually gave up and allowed nature and the cold to take him. "...Then the man drowsed off into what seemed like the most compfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known..."(p987) The cold won the battle. He died.

The fire is a sign of life for both of the characters in London's stories. Koskoosh will remain alive as long as the fire burns. He has only the wood beside him to keep it burning, and once it's gone, he will die. "...When the last stick surrendered up its heat, the frost would begin to gather strength..."(p973 London, The law of Life) In the end, he drops the stick in the snow and it sizzles and goes out, a representation of the last fire of life in him, now being extinguished. In To Build a Fire, we see this same type of relation between the man and the fire he must build to live. Early in the story there's mention of the dog wanting fire. "...The dog had learned fire, and it wanted fire..." (p978 ) This connection between the dog and fire stays strong throughout the story. When he builds one to eat, and leaves, the dog wants to go back to it. "...The dog was dissapointed, and yearned back towards the fire..." (p981) This natural instinct in the dog to not want to go out into the cold and stay by the fire is a warning to the reader about what is going to happen. When he got his feet wet,



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