To Build A Fire Characters by Jack London

The Dog

The dog represents the natural instinct that the man lacks or chooses to ignore. The animal is able to understand the natural environment and is reluctant to move in the cold. It knows the dangers of the cold and is aware of the consequences of one wrong step.

When the man intends to kill it, the dog is instinctively on its toes and is able to survive without the need for any material aid. In the end, it survives and reaches the camp where there are warm fire and ample food.

The Old-Timer

The old man is the source of sage advice for the traveller who chooses to overlook his experience and counsel. Even though he understands the tundra region and speaks from personal experience, the traveller considers him overly cautious and even timid in his approach.

In the end, all his points of counsel come to fruition as the traveller fails to survive the cold and meets his avoidable and tragic burial in the snow.

The Man

The protagonist of the story is a victim of his own pride and overzealous nature. He only thinks in terms of his own knowledge and never heeds the advice of other experienced people.

In his overconfidence, he ignores his own instinct or his dog’s reluctance to travel in the cold. In the end, he panics and falls to register the snow on the tree which ends up killing his bonfire.

He struggles to fight the frost and snow and eventually succumbs to nature’s unrelenting reality and his own arrogance.

The Boys

These are the mates that the man is planning to meet at the camp. Presumably, in search of gold, they are on an expedition to gain material benefits from their natural environment.

They are willing to risk their survival and brave the uncompromising cold to reach their destination and collect their prize of gold reserves.