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To Build a Fire Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from To Build a Fire
  1. #1
    “At the man’s heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolf dog, gray-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother the wild wolf. The animal […] knew that it was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than the man’s judgment.”
  2. #2
    “It did not lead him to meditate upon ... man’s frailty ... able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold. ”
  3. #3
    “It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man’s heels. ”
  4. #4
    “The thought of drove him on, but he ran no more than a hundred feet, when he staggered and pitched headlong. It was his last panic. When he had recovered his breath and control, he sat up and entertained in his mind the conception of meeting death with dignity.”
  5. #5
    “He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. ”
  6. #6
    “He spoke to the dog ... but in his voice was a strange note of fear that frightened the animal. ”
  1. #7
    “He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger. Gradually, as the flame grew stronger, he increased the size of the twigs with which he fed it. He squatted in the snow, pulling the twigs out from their entanglement in the brush and feeding directly to the flame. He knew there must be no failure.”
  2. #8
    “A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. ”
  3. #9
    “The dog was disappointed and yearned back toward the fire. This man did not know cold. Possibly all the generations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of real cold, of cold one hundred and seven degrees below freezing point. But the dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge”
  4. #10
    “Empty as the man’s mind was of thoughts, he was keenly observant, and he noticed the changes in the creek, the curves and bends and timber jams, and always he sharply noted where he placed his feet.”
  5. #11
    “The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.”
  6. #12
    “It was ... time to lie snug in a hole ... and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of ... space. ”
  1. #13
    “The only caresses it had ever received were the caresses of the whip-lash and of harsh and menacing throat-sounds that threatened the whip-lash. ”
  2. #14
    “Well, here he was; he had had the accident; he was alone; and he had saved himself. Those old-timers were rather womanish, some of them, he thought. All a man had to do was keep his head, and he was all right. Any man who was a man could travel alone.”
  3. #15
    “In a month no man had come up or down that silent creek.”
  4. #16
    “Working carefully from a small beginning, he soon had a roaring fire, over which he thawed the ice from his face and in the protection of which he ate his biscuits. For the moment the cold of space was outwitted.”
  5. #17
    “And all the while the dog sat and watched him, a certain yearning wistfulness in its eyes, for it looked upon him as the fire provider, and the fire was slow in coming. ”
  6. #18
    “He was a newcomer to the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. ”
  7. #19
    “Later the dog whined loudly. And still later it crept close to the man and caught the scent of death. This made the animal bristle and back away. A little longer it delayed, howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky. Then it turned and trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food providers and fire providers. ”
  8. #20
    “He was bound for the old claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek, where the boys were already. They had come over across the divide from the Indian Creek Country, while he had come the round-about way to take a look at the possibilities of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon. ”
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