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Shades of Masculinity
In both the short stories “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, share similar circumstances that lead the characters to having a second thoughts in their performances, which lead them to unable to change the situation.The character in the London’s short story, tell about a man who is travelling on Yukon Trail with his dog through the cold weather to reach his destination at the camp where food and warmth wait for his arrival. Meanwhile, the character in Hemingway's short story is about couples is sitting at a table outside in front the train station just drinking beer, and discussing whether or not have an abortion. These short story that is presented by the authors, share a moral dilemma of choosing between life or death that could have give freedom to oneself despondency.
Jack London deliberately made the main character in “To Build a fire” anonymous to show just how a man who is over-confident in his ability to survive in the cold condition to only realized he is going to die in the end. The author's relationship with the character is emotional distance and the man’s death is insignificant, the character is good sample for the viewer to knowledge what he could have done and wouldn’t have ended his life early. There were many descriptive in the passage that tell the nameless man’s body temperature can’t take the cold to well, still the man continues to ignore his numb body and constant walk on the trail to reach Indian Creek Country, which is on the other side of the mountains.
As in Ernest Hemingway’s short story,“Hills Like White Elephants” he use setting and imagery to make the writing has very little detail, but in the story it all happen within forty minutes. The story take place in Spain and it to be around 1927.The author has very creative style to used the Elephant as refer to the body of pregnant girl and though the the writing didn’t say anything about abortion, there were lots of symbolism going on around the relationships between the American and the girl as in the passage required critical think to understand the couple’s situation in every aspect.
For both the short story, there is set of time in the plot that reveal the characters are doing in every essential moment, so we can visually see what happening. The character in London's Story, the man had noted that when he travels 4 miles, it mean an hour. In the beginning of the passage, his goal is arrived at camp exactly at 6 pm. He started his journey at 9 am, then arrived at stream bay at 10 am, then lunches at 12 pm. After that, the author doesn't set any plan what he does in each hours. By then, it much descriptive of the man struggling to make fire in the snow and flashback he was warned by the Sulphur Creek from the region to not travel alone in the cold by himself. In sort of way, the man wasn't alone, he had a companion along side of him, the dog. At least the man brought “someone”, it didn’t warn him specific whom he need to bring.
Then in Hemingway’s story says, “It was very hot and the Express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid…the train comes in five minutes”. It end with couple expecting the train to arrive, the couple decision whether to keep or abort the infant. Their argument seemed brief after reading the short story, but there argument must had lots of pause and be able break the silence to bring up the pregnant topic again.The narrator left the audience to wonder what happened next to the couple’s decision.
There were some foreshadowing moment occurring in London’s story, the man show shallow bit of self conscious. An example of him thinking the main things that the man care: is lunch and camp. Before the man try to cross the icy stream, it noted: “He had a good growth of hair on his face, but that did not protect his nose or the upper part of his face from the frosty air. That it should be more important than that was a thought that never entered his head”. This indicated that he does not seem to worry about his physical appearance ever since from the started of the journey. Not realizing he has frostbites on his face, his only concerned is to cross the icy river so he can eat his lunch and soon head to the camp. Everything else he believe he can tolerate with no hesitation. Until it say: “The thought repeated...rubbed his face and nose with the back of his mitten hand...his face and nose became numb… he was sorry that he had not worn the sort of nose guard bud”. In a sense, the man noticed that the weather is colder, to realized he forgot to bring something, mean he was able to have a short moment not think about only food and camp, but little worry about his physical self and the situation. Since the man ignore his conscious, he be in trouble dealing with the Nature.
The irony in the short story, is when the first attempt he fell in the icy water, the second time he encounter the thin frozen ice, he used the dog, who eventually fell in the water and got paw-frostbites. The experience he went through to realized that he doesn’t want to do that incident again.The man had a flashback when a man from Sulphur Creek had warned him the truth of the cold, but the man ignored the guy warning, since he doesn’t see any harm done, only later that he realized all the flames matches became dusk in the snow on his second attempt, which the man realize he is failing to arrived at the camp.Then he rethink the moment chat with the Sulphur Creek to finally agree what the guy meant. But this time there is no third chances, this will lead his death. The fire he grasped to created after he got out the icy water, indicated to fight to survive and to get warmth as possible. It a sign that he has little warm left in his body before the cold freeze completed taken his body. The man and the fire are similar, since they have short span of life.
In Ernest Hemingway’s story, the character is identifies nameless. It focus on the feminist point of view and how the male in the passage support the female.The girl is the dominate in the situations, she seem to care a great deal about the American man is beginning to have a second thought why she was devoted to him. She want to change the lifestyle and start a future with this man.The American man who is logical antagonist, want her to get rid the infant so they can continues to have their current fun lifestyle to travel and drink alcohol with no worries. He doesn't want to be part of parenthood’s responsibility. This led her to argues with him that if the baby came in their life there be good purpose and something they can cherished together. Throughout the passage, she would argue to him trying her best to get him change his mind, but by the last passage, she seem to be not even try to continue argue back, the passage says, ““Do you feel better?” he asked. “I feel fine,” she said.“there's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.”” It didn’t seem to give descriptive on how her tone or how she feel properly. The different view in gender role, the man seem to put his need first and despite his kind, yet persuasive to Jig to get rid the infant, he comes off as being insensitive to the girl’s feeling and as the girl seeking to looking forward to create a family.Their different decision is like the train track at the train station as each represent the choices whether or not have abortion. Jig could be holding back emotion and may reject her plan, since she realized she had deeply love the man. If it make him happy, she would do whatever to be obedience toward him, however, he will always see her as the girl and not a true woman.
In both the short stories by Jack London, and by Ernest Hemingway, show the characters: the man, the dog, the American man, and the girl struggle to deals with someone/thing that is dragging them to achieve their goals. It was strong of both characters to have a mindset to strive to clarify their self-worthy. The man was doing the impossible to try fight against the Winter to get what he want, is impractical to try defeat the cold weather. Both the short story, the dog and the girl would consider have similar thought of being cautious and sensitive when both masculinity is competitive, stubborn, lack of knowledge, and aggressive personality.The moral lesson for “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, is people should listen to other who have an experience than you do and shouldn’t think to overpower the mother nature. As in “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway the man want was lust, and to be careful who you fall in love with and someone you hate should not put the blame on the child. The consequences is the man fail to arrive the camp and die in cold condition. A righteous man would withdrawn what he is doing and find shelter till the weather settle down, then be back to finish it goals than just thinking logic and relies his strength to get through the weather. As the women who controlling herself to maybe try to live on her own with the infant and forget the man or agree with the man about abortion, but won’t feel the love toward him anymore. Both the authors creates very memorable literary element in their stories to the characters who realized their mistake and the consequences that once they chose the path, there no going back in time to adjust the perplexing situation, the chances you get is either continue to live or death awaits.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants”. New York: Scribner's Sons, 1927
London, Jack. 29 May 1902 “To Build a Fire”. Print. Accessed 2 Apr. 2018.