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Nature and Free Will in “The Open Boat” and “To Build a Fire”, Essay Example

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The themes of free will, or a lack of free will when it comes to nature are central themes in both “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane and “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. Both stories illustrate how little man really has over his or her own destiny, with very different circumstances, and to very different ends.

I definitely began to feel with the character crafter by London in “To Build a Fire”. It was one thing after another for the poor man, and he could not catch a break; once he finally got his panicked fire made, nature simply extinguished it. He was a horribly tragic character.

“The Open Boat” in many ways showed the human spirit when faced with adversity. The “captain” was no longer such–these men simply became men, and bonded together in the face of their adversity. Although there was some tragic end, the story certainly illustrated the strength of spirit, even with a force as overwhelming as nature.

Man certainly has control of his or her own fate to an extent. It is not what you do that defines who you are, not does who you are define what you do–it is how you do it that really matters. Humans have choices, and it is these choices we make that allow us to choose our own fate to a large extent.

We fight so hard to prove that we are free, especially as Americans, for one of two reasons–we are ignorant enough to think we really are, or we truly know we are not, and feel the need to compensate.

Both London and Crane knew this to be true.

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